T-Mobile store inside International Plaza
St. Petersburg, Florida - It's a question of privacy. Can you imagine the personal photos you have in your cell phone right now being shared with strangers without you knowing? That's exactly what has happened to the Bucs star quarterback Josh Freeman. But as 10 News has learned, it's something that could easily happen to any of us.
Josh Freeman never intended for his private cell phone photos to become public, but that's what happened when T-Mobile customer Diana Furey was given his SD card. Freeman's personal photos show him with his friends, high end sports cars and new shoes.
Furey says a T-Mobile worker gave her the SD card at the T-Mobile store inside Tampa's International Plaza mall. Furey says, "When I went into the store and asked why I couldn't take pictures on my phone, it was because there was no SD card and so he just finally gave me one to put in there - that he had in the back of the store."
She says she was excited about it because she'd been frustrated with the company after receiving two replacement Blackberry phones from them after one broke. She says another one was defective.
Finally it appeared that her cell phone was working.
But later when she went back to pull up photos she had taken of her newborn nephew, she says she discovered images on her SD card from a stranger. They turned out to be photos from Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman's cell phone.
Furey says, "It seemed like some kind of - I don't know - celebrity party or something."
Freeman's attorney Terry Prince sent 10 News a letter confirming that the photos are Freeman's.
Furey says once again she contacted T-Mobile after she discovered the images. She says, "I emailed them on two separate occasions."
But she says the company didn't seem too concerned.
"I didn't get a response from either of them. I actually went to another T-Mobile kiosk at a different location and they said my only solution was to call the hotline - the T-Mobile hotline - and when I did that, they didn't really take me seriously. They said they'll send me a new card."
T-Mobile declined our request to talk on camera. But a manager at Computer Zone at 940 58th Street North in St. Petersburg was happy to explain to us how you can protect yourself, and your privacy when it comes to the SD card in your cell phone, especially when you trade or upgrade your phone.
Blake Chiszar says, if you think deleting your photos from the SD card is the answer, you're wrong. "There are a lot of commercially available programs that allow you to quickly recover data that's been deleted."
Chiszar's company specializes in all things computer and data recovery. 10 News put him to the test.
We took three photos inside the store and then deleted them from our SD card. Within about 15 minutes Chiszar was able to recover the images.
He says you should forget about trying to delete pictures from your SD card. Instead, he recommends downloading an app that allows you to encript the data on your SD card.
Chiszar says, "Most of the major platforms - Android and Apple - have apps that are available that allow you to encrypt your data that's held on the SD card, so somebody that obtains the information with or without permission, would need additional permission from the original person in order to view the content on there."
He says that way your card can't be viewed on any other device without your approval.
If Josh Freeman or T-Mobile had simply done that, Furey would not have been able to make out the pictures. Chiszar adds, "It would have just looked like garbage to her. You wouldn't have been able to see them at all."
Which Furey says would have been just fine for her. "Nobody wants all that information out there or in the hands of a stranger."
T-Mobile Spokesman, Juan Cornejo, did release this statement about what happened to Josh Freeman.
"This appears to be an isolated incident. We recommend that customers make sure to delete any private information, including personal photos, before recycling or returning equipment".
Meanwhile, Furey says she has tried for weeks to get T-Mobile to address her concerns about the SD card. This week she says she received a not so sincere "mistakes happen" apology from T-Mobile.
She has fired off a letter to the CEO of T-Mobile and Florida's Attorney General, Pam Bondi, hoping they can look into the situation to prevent it from happening again, and she has also reached out to the Bucs.
She says she plans to give the SD card back to Freeman after she hears from T-Mobile.
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