T Mobile is once again accused of failing to protect sensitive consumer data after an employee at one of its retail stores stole nude images from a customer’s phone when she came to trade in an old device , according to a complaint filed Friday.
The incident is similar to at least eight others perceived against T-Mobile in the past, according to court records and media reports. The lawsuit comes as cell phone companies and other tech giants face growing pressure from lawmakers to do more to protect customer data.
The complaint, filed in Washington state court, accuses T-Mobile of failing to properly train its retail employees and “turning a blind eye” when employees use their access to steal customer data under under the pretext of helping them with repairs and data transfers. .
“For nearly a decade, T-Mobile customers across the United States have regularly reported, as evidenced in news reports and lawsuits, instances of retail store employees stealing their intimate videos, photos explicit information and their bank accounts,” the lawsuit accuses. “Nevertheless, T-Mobile has failed to implement common-sense security hardware or software to protect consumers from exploitation of their data and privacy during ordinary transactions at the T-Store Mobile.”
In a statement, a T-Mobile spokesperson said: “He was an employee of a third-party authorized retailer and has been terminated. While we are unable to comment on the specifics of this ongoing matter, we would like to emphasize that we take customer protection and issues like this very seriously. We have policies and procedures in place to protect customer information and we expect them to be followed.
The victim, who is referred to only as “Jane Doe” in the complaint, says she went to a T-Mobile store at the Columbia Center Mall, about 200 miles southeast of Seattle, last October to upgrade your iPhone XS Max to an iPhone. 14 Pro Max. There, she handed the old device to an employee so that he could transfer his data to the new device.
While the worker had the phone, he found nude images of the victim and a video of her having sex with her partner on the XS Max’s camera roll and sent them to Snapchat, the lawsuit states.
Once the transaction was complete, Jane assumed her data had been wiped from the old phone until later that evening, when she checked her Snapchat and found that the images had been sent to an unknown account, which police then traced to the T-Mobile employee. .
“Anxious and concerned, Jane hurriedly returned to the T-Mobile store with her mother to speak with the store manager,” the lawsuit states. “Meanwhile, while Jane was seeking help at the T-Mobile store, the unauthorized person continued to log into her social media accounts on the iPhone XS Max.”
At first, staff claimed there had been no exchanges that day, but with the help of mall security and local police, Jane’s old phone was found in the ‘back shop.
“Rather than help Jane with the sexual privacy crime, the T-Mobile executive said that if Jane wanted access to the old device that had been used against her, Jane would have to pay them the amount “They had discounted him. for the exchange,” the lawsuit states. “Jane’s mother, on Jane’s behalf, went and paid the amount.”
The employee was later charged with first-degree computer trespass, a felony, and disclosure of intimate images, which is a felony in most states, according to the lawsuit. He pleaded guilty last month, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed by Carrie Goldberg and Laura Hecht-Felella of the New York-based firm CA Goldberg and Emma Aubrey of the Washington-based Redmond Law Firm.
Goldberg, who frequently attacks tech giants for failing to protect consumers, called his latest lawsuit “a classic case of a gargantuan corporation” viewing customer harm as a cost of doing business.
“T-Mobile has long known that its negligent hiring and lack of consumer safety policies will result in the sexual exploitation of at least some of its customers,” Goldberg told CNBC.
“T-Mobile has great incentive programs to get customers to upgrade their devices and return their old devices. But the sad truth is that T-Mobile knows that employees sometimes steal the most intimate images and videos customers on older devices that they are abandoning,” Goldberg added. “This case shows that no one should feel like their privacy is safe at T-Mobile.”