Just when things were beginning to look up for Andy Rubin’s ambitious and buzzworthy Essential Products startup, a far more serious snafu than yet another shipping delay went down, further damaging the US company’s reputation.

What good is a Sprint pre-order inauguration and long overdue (slow) delivery process for Essential Phone pre-sales if customers can’t trust their most basic personal information is safe with the rookie mobile device manufacturer?

It simply boggles the mind how Essential handled a recent routine payment verification operation, sharing approximately 70 pictures of photo IDs gathered from unsuspecting buyers with a “small group of other customers.”

Basically, everyone who received an email asking for a driver’s license, state ID or passport snapshot was then able to see what other recipients of the electronic message replied, including the full names, birth dates and home addresses of the aforementioned 70 people or so.

Initially, the blunder smelled like a phishing scam from a mile away, which would have entailed a malicious actor gaining access to the e-mail addresses of dozens of Essential patrons.

Fortunately, that’s not the case after all, as company CEO and Android founding father Andy Rubin confirmed in a “humbling” note on the official Essential blog. While Rubin didn’t mince words, taking all the blame on himself for the “error in our customer care function”, the part about the daily “thousands of micro-decisions” founders are faced with to “keep their companies laser-focused on delivering products into the right markets at precisely the right time” sounds an awful lot like justification. And no, there’s absolutely no excuse for this sort of monumental gaffe. Let’s at least hope it won’t happen again, with “steps” taken internally to “add safeguards” going forward.

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