Security & Fraud

Essential Admits To Accidental Leak Of Customer Data

Ooops.

If one needed a single word description for the difficulties facing Essential — a small smartphone maker facing a large data privacy kerfuffle — "ooops" would probably be a pretty good starting place.

According to reports, the firm accidentally shared a lot of personal information about some of their customers as part of what was apparently an attempt to verify some consumer purchases in advance of a shipment.

The move was so clumsy that the Redditors who first noticed it assumed it was a phishing scam designed to go after those who had pre-purchased an Essential phone so the data could later be used for identity theft.

But according to CEO Andy Rubin, this wasn't the work of criminals — this was just an internal error writ large.

"Yesterday, we made an error in our customer care function that resulted in personal information from approximately 70 customers being shared with a small group of other customers. We have disabled the misconfigured account and have taken steps internally to add safeguards against this happening again in the future," he writes. "We sincerely apologize for our error."

Affected customers will be offered a year of LifeLock, an identity theft protection service.

The error adds to frustrations among consumers whose preorders have yet to ship (and are now late) and whose cards have been charged for a phone they do not have. Others, however, have confirmed their phones have been shipped — and that the phone is updating regularly.

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