An ultra-Orthodox woman filed a NIS 2.5 million (some $653,000) damages suit against Pelephone Communications, one of Israel's mobile phone service providers, claiming breach of contract which led to the "destruction of her home life."
According to the suit, filed last week, a company representative breached the of confidentiality clause in the service provider-subscriber contract, by providing the woman's husband with a detailed account of her calls.
Once in possession of the information, which suggested she had phone conversations with another man, the woman's husband filed for divorce and she found herself ostracized from the Orthodox circle she had known her entire life.
Value of privacy
"I told them it could happen, I warned them, I begged, I explained it could come to murder," she told Ynet.
"Her life was ruined," Attorney Guy Ophir added. "She's lost everything – her family, her friends, her community. Luckily, she has a good job and can provide for herself."
The suit further states that upon subscribing to Pelephone's service, the woman made it clear that being Orthodox, the details of her phone log and conversation must remain confidential, since disclosing them may invoke severe consequences.
The company assured her that her account and all the details pertaining to it would be kept confidential, as required by law; but despite the assurances – and the fact that she was given a pin number allowing her and her alone access to the account – its details were given to her husband.
The couple was married two years ago and had a daughter. When the relationship went sour, the woman filed for separation in the regional Family Court, but the couple eventually reconciled.
It was during that time, she said, that she began consulting with a friend – a neighboring married man – about her marital problems.
The relationship, she stressed, was strictly platonic and amounted to nothing more than phone calls. In the Orthodox community, however, such a relationship is forbidden.
Company easily duped
According to the claim, the woman's husband showed up at a Pelephone customer service center one day and told the company representative that his wife was in labor, and needed to see her calls' listing immediately. He then proceeded to call a woman who identified herself as his wife and gave the representative permission to disclose the information.
The service representative failed to follow company procedures, which require a series of precautionary measures, and did not ask for the pin number, opting to simply disclose the information.
"When I asked the company about it they told me that they had my permission, but I didn’t give it. My lawyer and I had a meeting with the regional (Pelephone) manager about the case and they way he treated us was appalling," she added.
"The manager called in that person who made the mistake, and he said he knew what he did was wrong. I asked him – 'what were you thinking? Since when does a woman in labor need her call log?' They said they were sorry for making a mistake, but when we asked them to put it in writing they refused."
Several days after the husband found out about her conversations with another man, she said, she was subpoenaed to the regional Rabbinical Court and issued a divorce. Furthermore, the judges warned her that she may also be deemed a "rebellious wife," which would strip her of her rights to any communal property and may prevent her from ever marrying within the Orthodox community again.
The Rabbinical Court did not award her any property; her ex-husband has taken all of what used to be their mutual belongings, he does not pay her alimony, nor does he have any contact with their two-year-old daughter. As a result of the verdict, she added, she has been shunned by her community and the local chastity squads have begun an intimidation campaign against her.
The woman's suit also includes counts of lose of income, deformation of character and mental anguish.
Pelephone offered the following comment: "Pelephone is a law abiding firm which meticulously guards its clients' privacy. The law suit has yet to reach us, and therefore we cannot comment on the case."