Andy Rubin issues apology for Essential customer privacy debacle
The Essential Phone has gotten off to a rocky start. Key employees recently left the company, the launch of their first device was delayed multiple times, and initial reviews of the smartphone have been mixed. Yesterday, Essential threw more gasoline on the fire; a customer support email account blasted a message to a large group of Essential customers, requesting a photo ID to complete their order. Unfortunately, every customer that received the email was included in a simple carbon copy, and when some customers responded with personal information, it was sent to everyone in the chain.
Here’s the full email:
Our order review team requires additional verifying information to complete the processing of your recent order. This verification is performed to protect against unauthorized use of your payment information and similar to what is conducted for in-person purchases.
Please provide an alternative email and phone number to confirm this purchase..
We would like to request a picture of a photo ID (e.g. driver’s license, state ID, passport) clearly showing your photo, signature and address. NOTE: the address on the ID should match the billing address listed on your recent order.
We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation. Once verified, we look forward to shipping your order.
Essential Products Customer Care
About 70 customers in total were affected, with some sending scans of their passports, including the personal information included therein. Rubin has since issued a formal apology to his customers, which can be found at the Essential blog. Rubin calls the snafu an “error in [Essential’s] customer care function.” The company has since disabled the “misconfigured account” and has promised to add preventative internal practices going forth.
The company will also provide affected customers with a one-year subscription to LifeLock, an organization focused on securing personal information and alerting users when their information may have been compromised. Rubin also stated late last night via Twitter that affected customers will receive an Essential Phone at no cost, although the company hasn’t made an official statement confirming this and Rubin didn’t go into any further detail.