Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Hired in August of 2001, Mr. Steven William Sutcliffe refused to provide the HR Department of Global Crossing Development Company with his Social Security Number. A criminal background search later revealed he failed to disclose his criminal records as well. Mr. Sutcliffe was terminated immediately.
Upon termination, Mr. Sutcliffe began picketing Global Crossing carrying a sign bearing the address of a website he launched against the company. “On this website, Defendant displayed Global Crossing employees’ personal information, including payroll information, social security numbers, birth dates, and residential addresses, with some of this information hyperlinked to an article about identity theft.”
On that website, Sutcliffe posted over 1000 of his former co-workers Personally Identifiable Information (PII) including payroll information, home residences, and social security numbers with links to identify theft information sites. When served with a restraining order, Sutcliffe posted threats against the agent who served him, “Our paths are now crossed and we are forever joined . . . to deal with that I am going to make you a one time offer. If I never see or hear from or of you again, I will forget you . . . . However, if I do ever hear your name mentioned against me ever again I will personally add you to my domain list. I think you understand the issues now enough to understand what this means. If I ever see you near my family again, and I know how to stalk too, I will kill you. That’s my offer.”
Sutcliffe was found to be subject to federal subject-matter jurisdiction for the interstate transfer of PII, a serious federal charge. The case is in appeal, but Global Crossing could have avoided the situation all together had they completed proper background examination prior to employment. Further protections, such as information documentation and security to protect employees, effective controls and exit procedures, as well as technology controls to limit accessibility would have gone a long way to prevent Sutcliffe from inflicting the damage he did.