T-Mobile, the telecommunications giant, is facing accusations of inadequately protecting sensitive consumer data following an incident at one of its retail outlets. A lawsuit filed in a Washington state court on Friday alleges that an employee copied explicit images from a customer’s phone during a routine device trade-in. This incident echoes at least eight prior cases against T-Mobile, signaling a troubling trend of data breaches within the company.
Claims of Negligence and Insufficient Training
The lawsuit alleges that T-Mobile has been negligent in training its retail staff adequately and suggests that the company turns a blind eye to employees misusing their access to customer data. The plaintiff asserts that T-Mobile has been aware of such incidents for nearly a decade, as news reports and previous legal actions indicate. The lawsuit says that despite this knowledge, the company failed to implement essential security measures regarding hardware and software to safeguard consumers during routine store transactions.
T-Mobile’s Response and Employee Dismissal
Responding to the allegations, a T-Mobile spokesperson issued a statement emphasizing that the implicated individual was an employee of a third-party authorized retailer and has since been terminated. The spokesperson reiterated the company’s dedication to customer protection, underscoring the seriousness with which it addresses such issues. While refraining from commenting on the specific details of the ongoing case, T-Mobile asserted the existence of established policies and procedures designed to protect customer information.
In the legal filing, the complainant, identified only as “Jane Doe,” visited a T-Mobile store at the Columbia Center Mall to upgrade her iPhone XS Max to an iPhone 14 Pro Max. During the data transfer process, the employee allegedly stumbled upon explicit images and a video of Jane with her partner on the old device, subsequently sending them to himself on Snapchat without her knowledge.
Upon discovering the breach later that evening, Jane returned to the store seeking assistance. During this period, the unauthorized individual continued to access her social media accounts on her old phone. Despite police involvement, the T-Mobile manager purportedly insisted that Jane’s mother make a payment to regain access to the compromised device.
Legal Action and Corporate Criticism
Legal firms C.A. Goldberg and Redmond Law Firm filed the lawsuit, with prominent consumer protection advocate Carrie Goldberg leading the case. Describing the situation as a “classic case of a gargantuan company” dismissing customer harm as a business cost, Goldberg criticized T-Mobile for being aware of the risks associated with negligent hiring and a lack of consumer safety policies, leading to customer exploitation.
Goldberg underscored the contradiction between T-Mobile’s incentive programs encouraging device upgrades and the company’s purported knowledge that employees may misuse customer data during the trade-in process. According to Goldberg, the lawsuit serves as a stark reminder that “nobody should feel their privacy is safe at T-Mobile.”
Consequences for the employee
The accused employee is facing legal repercussions for his actions, being charged with first-degree computer trespass and disclosing intimate images—both serious offenses. According to the lawsuit, he pleaded guilty to these charges last month, highlighting the data breach’s severity. As T-Mobile grapples with this recent legal challenge, it encounters growing pressure from lawmakers and consumers to prioritize robust measures for protecting customer data.