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Verizon chief exec pnked in privacy prank

'Can you hear me now?'

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Verizon chief exec Ivan Seidenberg has been confronted with a comedian wielding a loudhailer and amplifier in a protest about privacy.

John Hargrave of comedy site Zug.com tracked down Seidenberg's phone number and home address before paying the telecoms boss a raucous visit, protesting how easy mobile telco firms made it to obtain such information about their subscribers. Hargrave was angry at how US mobile phone companies leak personal information, which often ends up in the hands of unscrupulous data brokers.

Hargrave would have visited Randall Stephenson, chief exec of AT&T and Dan Hesse, chief exec of Sprint Nextel as well but was thwarted because both names were too commonplace.

"Unfortunately, Stephenson and Hesse had common names, so I couldn't find them in the huge pile of unlisted numbers that came back" from a search of a "free cell phone records" site, Hargrave explains

No matter, as the Seidenberg prank was amusing in itself and illustrated the serious point that it is easy to get cell phone name and address details in the US, even where these apply to unlisted numbers.

During the prank, Hargrave stood outside Seidenberg's property and yelled: "I'm here on behalf of Verizon customers. PLEASE DO A BETTER JOB PROTECTING YOUR CUSTOMERS' CELL PHONE RECORDS! Everyone has the right to privacy, including you Ivan! When we don't have privacy, then freaks with bullhorns start showing up on our front lawn."

"Can you hear me now," he concluded, in a parody of a Verizon advertising slogan.

The protest was curtailed after Seidenberg's neighbour and dog approached Hargrave, prompting the comic to clear up his equipment and scarper, as recorded in a video posted on (where else) YouTube, below. ®

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