San Diego

Prosecutors: Cox Communications Violates Customer Privacy and Hazardous Waste Protections

Company says it corrected problems, denies disclosing private information

One of San Diego's biggest cable and internet providers is accused of dumping hazardous waste and compromising customer privacy.

The allegations in a civil lawsuit, filed by the state attorney general in San Diego Superior Court May 17, could affect you no matter how you get your cable, phone or internet service.

State prosecutors want Cox Communications to pay penalties and costs for two significant violations.

The lawsuit alleges that Cox employees threw away customer records without shredding or erasing personal information.

"There's an entire group of people whose information has been compromised and exposed," Eva Velasquez of the Identity Theft Information Center told NBC 7.

Velasquez, who reviewed the legal action for NBC 7, also expects it will put San Diego companies on notice about the importance of protecting customer privacy "from cradle to grave."

"So that includes while they are using the data, and then when they are done with it. It does need to be disposed of properly," Velasquez said.

The 32-page lawsuit does not specify what customer information was wrongly disclosed, and the Attorney General's office did not respond to our request for more details about the allegations.

Eva Velasquez says that's unacceptable.

"We do need to know what that information was."

The lawsuit also claims Cox ignored state health, safety and environmental protection laws, by wrongly disposing of old equipment at offices throughout San Diego.

Cox allegedly failed to recycle or safely dispose of batteries, electronic equipment, chemicals and other hazardous waste, including used cable, computer and phone equipment turned in by customers.

That illegal dumping allegedly happened at Cox's main office on Federal Boulevard, the company's retail store in Hillcrest, and other Cox locations from Chula Vista to Oceanside.

Prosecutors also said Cox did not train service technicians and other employees how to properly dispose of that electronic waste.

Cox Communications declined our request for an interview.

But in a statement, the company said "there was no data breach and we were compliant in the appropriate disposal of personal customer information.”

But Cox also said it "cooperated fully" with the Attorney General's investigation of the allegedly illegal waste disposal and has made changes to ensure all used equipment will now be properly disposed of.

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