November 21st, 2008
05:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Verizon employees fired over Obama cell phone breach

Obama's cell phone records were breached.
Obama's cell phone records were breached.

(CNN) - Verizon Wireless has fired employees connected with a breach of records from a cell phone used earlier this year by President-elect Barack Obama, a Verizon source told CNN Friday.

The source would not say how many people were terminated, but said that "we now consider this matter closed."

Verizon reported the breach Thursday, and Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the transition team had been notified Wednesday. Gibbs said the president-elect no longer uses that phone, which has been inactive for months.

The fired employees were hired "to take care of customers," the Verizon source told CNN, and were not authorized to access customer records unless asked to do so by the customer.

The source also said the employees in question could not have read text messages, if Obama sent or received them, and would not have been able to access the content of any voicemail messages, although they would have been able to see if any had been left.

"This was some employees' idle curiosity," the source said, adding that records of no other customers of note were breached.

Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology said the employees likely had access to the dates and times of calls, the length of calls and the telephone numbers of those Obama spoke with.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said Thursday that the company initially put on leave all employees who had access to the account - "whether authorized or not" - during an investigation.

McAdam said the device on the account was a simple voice flip-phone - not a BlackBerry or other smartphone designed for e-mail or other data services - meaning none of Obama's e-mail could have been accessed.

Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, has launched an internal probe to determine if Obama's information was shared only among employees or whether "the information of our customer had in any way been compromised outside our company, and this investigation continues," McAdam said in an internal company e-mail obtained by CNN.

The company has alerted "the appropriate federal law enforcement authorities," McAdam said.

– CNN's Brian Todd and Ed Henry contributed to this report


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. MY FRIENDS - REPUBLI-KLANS SORE LOSERS JOA$$HN McINSANE/PAIN-LIN ARE BACK AT HOME RELISHING ON THEIR HATE MONGERING!

    that's what companies do everyday & everytime!

    even our information is been breached in india & china because of GW oursourced American jobs.

    THERE IS NO PRIVACY IN AMERICA!!!

    WE ARE LIKE SHEEPS WITH 666 MARKED ON OUR FOREHEAD!!!!

    THE QUESTION IS WHO IS NEXT?

    November 21, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. Blue balloons

    People have been fired for less. They got what they deserved.

    November 21, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  3. Perusing-Through

    Idle time at Verizon can be costly!

    November 21, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. Mary

    Funny, I remember when Palin's email was hacked into and the Obama supporters thought it was funny and no big deal but when it happens to their messiah it is a matter of upmost importance. It happens, get over it. Hypocrites.

    November 21, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. Hey Nah!

    That's more like it!

    November 21, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  6. Jeff

    With all the wiretappings going on via Bush's WOT, why didn't Homeland Security discover this?

    November 21, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. Ian

    Breaching someone's phone records, is an unbelievable act of invasion of privacy. Whether it be a President-elect or Joe the Plumber, no one should be able to access the records of a private citizen. What were these people thinking? Did they seriously believe they would getaway with it? If having brains was a disease, these idiots would be the healthiest folks on the planet. Fired is what they deserve and never being able to work in the information field again, is something else that should be imposed. Give them a shovel and Joe's phone number.

    November 21, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  8. Hooray!

    Good for the Obamas. I'd put my kids in a private school, even if I weren't President. You people just want something to complain about. They have the right to put their kids where they feel most comfortable, and don't have to answer to anyone for their decisions regarding their kids.

    November 21, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  9. dizizi31

    a new bunch of no bodies (wanting their 15 minutes of fame e.g. Joe the Plumber). Fire them and prosecute them.

    November 21, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  10. TexasLady

    Another set of double standards.

    People were put on leave if they even had access to Obama's records and then fired.

    The employees who looked at a citizen who didn't agree with Obama? Well, they just got a slap on the wrist.

    Why? Isn't the common citizen important any more?

    November 22, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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