When you hand off your phone to a mobile company employee for repairs, it’s probably a good idea to go through your texts and photos beforehand, in the event that a nosy employee stumbles on that topless shot you took while on vacation a few years ago.
A Los Angeles woman learned this the hard way after a Sprint employee allegedly uploaded explicit selfies from her phone and posted them on Facebook. Now, she’s suing Sprint and seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and identity theft.
According to the lawsuit, the woman, identified only as J. Johnson, turned in her HTC Evo phone to a Sprint store in Los Angeles last April, so she could trade it in for a better model. She was assured by the store’s employees that the phone would be sent to a plant in Louisville, where its contents would be wiped clean.
A month later, Johnson learned from a friend that two explicit photographs of herself having sex with a former boyfriend had been uploaded to Facebook, for all of her friends and family to see (the man, identified in the lawsuit as D. Green, is also filing civil charges against Sprint). The photos, in which both Green’s and Johnson’s faces were clearly visible, garnered dozens of comments on Facebook, including one from a man who said he had downloaded the photos and planned to keep them for personal use.
As of now, it’s a bit unclear who, exactly, uploaded Johnson’s photos onto Facebook. Her lawsuit alleges that a Sprint employee at the Louisville plant found the photos and used the mobile Facebook application to post them on her live feed, and Johnson’s attorney told the LA Times that he plans to subpoena Facebook’s records to find out where the photos were posted from (for their part, Sprint says protecting user privacy is of the “utmost importance” to them, and that they “intend to fully investigate this matter”).
But regardless of who posted the photos, or where they were posted from, it’s abundantly clear that this incident doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Sprint and other mobile companies’ privacy policies (nor does it reflect well on their hiring practices—where are they recruiting their employees, in an Arby’s parking lot?). Given all we’ve learned about Internet surveillance and mobile services harvesting our personal data for their own ends, if we had any reason to believe that companies like Sprint respect our privacy, we certainly don’t anymore.
H/T LA Times | Photo by Bob Mical/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)