T Mobile is being accused once again 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 went to trade in an old device, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.
The incident is at least similar to another eight taxed vs. T-Mobile in the past, according to court records and news reports. The lawsuit comes as wireless companies and other tech giants face increasing pressure from lawmakers to do more to protect customer data.
The lawsuit, filed in Washington state court, accuses T-Mobile of failing to properly train its retail workers and of “turning a blind eye” when employees use their access to steal customer data under the pretext that the They are helping with repairs and data transfers. .
“For nearly a decade, T-Mobile customers across the United States have regularly reported, as evidenced by news stories and lawsuits, cases of retail store employees having their intimate videos, explicit photographs, and bank accounts stolen,” the company charges. demand. “However, T-Mobile has not implemented any common-sense security hardware or software to protect consumers from exploitation of their data and privacy during ordinary transactions at the T-Mobile store.”
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The victim, referred to only as “Jane Doe” in the complaint, claims she went to a T-Mobile store in the Columbia Center shopping center, about 200 miles southeast of Seattle, last October to upgrade her iPhone. XS Max to an iPhone. 14 Pro Max. While she was there, she handed the old device to an employee so she could transfer her data to the new device.
While the worker had the phone, he found images of the victim naked and a video of her having sex with her partner in the XS Max’s camera roll and sent it to himself on Snapchat, the lawsuit states.
Once the transaction was complete, Jane assumed her data had been wiped from the old phone until later that night, when she checked her Snapchat and saw that the images had been sent to an unknown account, which police later traced to the T employee. -Mobile. .
“Anxious and worried, Jane rushed back to the T-Mobile store with her mother to speak with the store manager,” the lawsuit states. “During this time, while Jane sought 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 room.
“Instead of helping Jane confront the sexual privacy crime, the T-Mobile manager said that if Jane wanted to regain access to the old device that had been used as a weapon against her, Jane would have to pay them the amount she they had discounted. for the exchange,” the lawsuit states. “Jane’s mother turned herself in on Jane’s behalf and paid the amount.”
The employee was later charged with first-degree computer trespassing, a felony, and disclosing intimate images, which is a crime in most states, according to the lawsuit. He pleaded guilty last month, the lawsuit says.
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 takes on tech giants for failing to protect consumers, called his latest lawsuit a “classic case of a giant company” blaming injuries to customers as a cost of doing business.
“T-Mobile has long known that its negligent hiring and lack of consumer safety policies will result in at least some of its customers being sexually exploited,” Goldberg told CNBC.
“T-Mobile has great incentive programs to induce customers to upgrade their devices and trade in old ones. But the ugly truth is that T-Mobile knows that employees sometimes steal customers’ most intimate images and videos from the old devices they hand out,” Goldberg added. “This case shows that no one should feel like their privacy is safe at T-Mobile.”