Verizon CEO pranked to show privacy gaps

I don't get it, but it is kind of funny.

I feel bad for Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications. He has to explain to his neighbors why an angry man with a megaphone invaded their exclusive neighborhood and shouted "Can you hear me now!?" at Seidenberg's house.

The man is John Hargrave of comedy site, and he pulled his prank after finding Seidenberg's unlisted cell phone number and home address on a "free cell phone records" site. Therein lies the irony--as well as the humor--of the stunt. Hargrave says he did it to show that personal consumer data is too accessible and the wireless wireless industry doesn't protect it the way it should.

"Even if you have an unlisted number, chances are that all your personal data-- your cell phone number, who you called, where you live, and the number of your private sex therapist--are all up for sale somewhere on the Internet," Zug explains.

Now I agree that customer data is a sensitive issue, and I do like activist pranks, but I'm not sure what was accomplished here. Seidenberg was chosen not because Verizon was guilty of any out-of-the-ordinary breaches of customer data but rather because his name is more unusual than AT&T's Randall Stephenson or Sprint's Dan Hesse's and Seidenberg was thus easier to identify in the searches as a definite CEO of a wireless carrier.

Matt Hickey

No response from Verizon, and we're not holding our breath. Also, using a corporation's slogan against itself is always funny, especially in this case, but the Verizon Guy looks too much like me (see picture) for me to like it.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.


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