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MPAA Kills California Anti-Pretexting Bill 299

Posted by Zonk
from the revealed-to-be-playing-dirty-pool dept.
IAmTheDave writes "A California anti-pretexting bill that got unanimous support in the state senate with a vote of 30-0 was struck down after heavy last-minute lobbying by the MPAA. The bill aimed to make deceptive 'pretexting' (lying) to gain personal information on another person illegal. The MPAA told legislators 'We need to pose as someone other than who we are to stop illegal downloading,' and thus killed the bill when it came up for a final vote. California passed a much narrower bill that 'bans the use of deceit to obtain telephone calling records, and nothing else.' In a final 'think of the children' bid, the Califonia Association of Licensed Investigators also opposed the bill, saying it needed to be able to use pretexting to help find missing children, among other things."
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MPAA Kills California Anti-Pretexting Bill

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  • History of Violence (Score:5, Informative)

    by udderly (890305) * on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:24AM (#17065658)

    To paraphrase Ed Harris in the movie, History of Violence, "...how come the MPAA is so good at killing bills?"

    The answer is that succesful politicians are not developed, they're bought.

    • by ph1ll (587130) <ph1ll1phenry.yahoo@com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:41AM (#17065976)
      I'm not an American nor do I pretend to understand American politics but how can a vote swing from 30-0 to the other way?

      And people say the European Commission is corrupt...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CliffEmAll (794568)
        The Legislative system in United States governments at the federal and state levels have two separate bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. In order to become law, bills must pass both houses. What happened here is that the Senate wrote and passed a bill, which was voted down by the House.
      • by JerkBoB (7130) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:26PM (#17066852)
        I'm not an American nor do I pretend to understand American politics but how can a vote swing from 30-0 to the other way?

        In the US system of government, at both federal and state levels, legislation must pass through both houses of congress (legislative branch) and then be signed into law by the president/governor (executive branch). There are variations on the path that aren't worth getting into for this discussion.

        So, the bill passed the CA state Senate, but was killed in the House of Representatives. Two completely different sets of people. The intent of having two legislative bodies is to get different perspectives on an issue. Representatives are (re-)elected every two years, and therefore tend to take a short-term perspective on issues, looking at what's going to look best to their constituents who will be voting on their re-election (or contributing campaign dollars, as the case may be). Senators are supposedly able to take a bigger-picture view because they have a longer term (six years), and aren't scrambling to please constituents as much as Representatives.

        This is the theory. In practice, I don't know how well it works. I think the only thing that's really going to make a major difference is some serious campaign finance reform, at both the State and Federal levels. And I have little hope for that happening because it's like asking pigs to vote on whether they'll voluntarily get less slop in their troughs. Yeah, right.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DJCacophony (832334)
      This may be bad for filesharers, but it's a victory for social engineers everywhere. Do you really want to live in a state where lying is illegal?
      • by bwt (68845) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:57PM (#17067478) Homepage
        I wonder how many marriages began with a guy telling lies in a bar to get a girl's phone number only to realize later that he actually likes her.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:42AM (#17065988)

      To paraphrase Ed Harris in the movie, History of Violence, "...how come the MPAA is so good at killing bills?" The answer is that succesful politicians are not developed, they're bought.

      True. Although do bear in mind this is California, home of the movie industry. I'd be interested in seeing if they were quite as successful in getting a similar bill nuked in, say, Massachussets.

      • by udderly (890305) *
        True. Although do bear in mind this is California, home of the movie industry. I'd be interested in seeing if they were quite as successful in getting a similar bill nuked in, say, Massachussets.

        Speaking of California and the movie industry, does anyone know if we're hearing anything from any of these actors/actresses who speak out so often about social injustice? What's the Governator's opinion on this? I haven't seen anything. I wonder if maybe it's too close to their own pocketbook (maybe it's true
        • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:12PM (#17066578)

          Speaking of California and the movie industry, does anyone know if we're hearing anything from any of these actors/actresses who speak out so often about social injustice? What's the Governator's opinion on this? I haven't seen anything. I wonder if maybe it's too close to their own pocketbook (maybe it's true about the love of money...) or maybe it's just peer pressure from within their social circles?

          Those idiot actors speak out on social injustice when it gives them photo ops with starving children. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Angelina Jolie.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Robber Baron (112304)

            Yeah, I'm talking to you, Angelina Jolie.
            Yeah, as if she reads Slashdot!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Homr Zodyssey (905161)

            Those idiot actors speak out on social injustice when it gives them photo ops with starving children. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Angelina Jolie.

            I don't think Angelina Jolie [wikipedia.org] is doing it for the photo ops. She's donated millions of US$ out of her own pocket and is continuously working first-hand in dangerous and poverty-stricken areas. I see your point about idiot actors speaking out because they think their views are somehow more informed. But, I think Ms. Jolie is a very bad example for you to use. How

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stupid_is (716292)
      "An honest politician is one that stays bought" - RAH
    • by bunions (970377) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:43PM (#17067188)
      > The answer is that succesful politicians are not developed, they're bought.

      There was an interesting piece on PBS some years back where they interviewed 4 former California governors at once: Davis, Wilson, Jerry Brown and ... uh ... someone whose name escapes me at the moment.

      Anyway, there was an interesting discussion about what they'd do to 'fix' California if they could, and one of them was to -increase- the amount of time legislators were elected for. They said that the situation now was that the legislators were there for such a brief amount of time between elections that they basically had no time to learn how to do their jobs. When faced with this dilemma, these freshman legislators turn to the only people there with experience at the job at hand - the lobbyists, who have typically been around Sacramento for many years and know how to get things done. As the governors explained it, this is the mechanism by which lobbyists essentially buy laws.

      Another thing they thought would be a good idea: pushing the legislature back to part-time, so they had less time to pass useless laws. Say what you will about Arnold, he's like the veto king. He vetoed more laws in his first month than previous governors did their entire term.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by yali (209015)
        these freshman legislators turn to the only people there with experience at the job at hand - the lobbyists

        That's really only been a problem since California passed term limits. Why not repeal them, rather than increasing term length?

        Term limits + law of unintended consequences = More power to lobbyists

  • by jonnythan (79727) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:25AM (#17065666) Homepage
    I never realized the MPAA was a law enforcement organization.

    I wonder what else they need in order to enforce laws. Prisons? Armed agents? The power to arrest and seize property?
    • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:38AM (#17065922) Homepage
      Prisons? Armed agents? The power to arrest and seize property?

      Stop giving them ideas! (not that they can't already do that via other means...)
      • by russ1337 (938915)
        >>>"Stop giving them ideas! (not that they can't already do that via other means...)"

        you mean from that huge database of "ideas" of which they are trying to stop people from copying?
    • Like in the movie "Enemy of the Sate", someone should pretext as the lawmakers and get their phone records. Maybe this will make them understand the gravity of the situation.

      Any ideas ?
  • by mikelieman (35628) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:25AM (#17065670) Homepage
    It's the only way to make sure the Legislators even PRETEND TO TRY to give a shit about us.

    We're fucked.

    • Amendment IV

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      Evidence that is obtained by any party that does not follow this rule should be inadmissible!

      • As we've seen, it's been proven to be not broad enough for our needs.

        How about this:

        Amendment $NEXT_AMMENDMENT_NUM

        The right of The People to Personal Privacy and Security and Control of any information or data directly created by them, or by their indirect acts shall not be infringed by either any Governmental Body, Federal, State, or Local,, OR ANY ARTIFICIAL LEGAL ENTITY created by any act of any Governmental Body.

        (That should take care of the damned Corporations. )

        • The only problem with that is that it will never happen for the same reasons [usconstitution.net] that this bill was killed: it requires politicians to do what is in the best interests of the citizens, instead of what is in the best interests of their reelection campaign (read getting money).
          • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:04PM (#17066416) Journal

            The only problem with that is that it will never happen for the same reasons that this bill was killed: it requires politicians to do what is in the best interests of the citizens, instead of what is in the best interests of their reelection campaign (read getting money).

            The only problem? His amendment is so broadly worded that it would probably outlaw credit histories as well. Do you lend money to people? Is this something you'd condone?

            Likewise, there were probably very compelling reasons not to pass this bill but we won't hear about them because of the four letter word known as the MPAA. Because they got involved I predict the chances of this being a fruitful discussion on /. at 100 to 1 against.

            • by udderly (890305) *
              I stand corrected.

            • The only problem? His amendment is so broadly worded that it would probably outlaw credit histories as well. Do you lend money to people? Is this something you'd condone?

              Oh, because the credit history companies have just done an excellent job of protecting our credit histories and protecting us from fraud!

              Is this something I'd condone? Hell yeah!
      • You can also leverage the information you got illegally to find a legal path for how you knew it. A private investigator may illegally tap your phone, which is inadmissible. When he hears where your illicit rendezvous is, he'll take perfectly admissible pictures of you there.

        It's not legal, but unless you catch them at it, you can't do much about it. And they've still got the pictures, which are still admissible evidence.
        • Last I checked, this was called the fruit of a poisoned tree/vine (or something along those lines). Anything legally gained from an illegal event is not admissable in the courts. Proving that they started off illegally will be the problem though.
          • by Shakrai (717556)

            Last I checked, this was called the fruit of a poisoned tree/vine (or something along those lines). Anything legally gained from an illegal event is not admissable in the courts. Proving that they started off illegally will be the problem though.

            The fruit of poisoned tree and rules of evidence generally only apply to law enforcement or people acting on their behalf (i.e: informants). If I break into your house to rob you and in the course of doing so discover evidence that implicates you in a murder the

      • *SIGH* Back to Intro Poli Sci 101. The Constitution and its Ammendments apply ONLY to the regulation of the behavior of the US Federal Government and the actions of the States. Individuals (including corporations) are held to a much looser set of rules. And with the actions of the SOCTUS relating to so-called "poison fruit" testamony and evidence, the 4th Ammendment is on its way out too.
    • Already exists... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196)
      It's not a bill, but a party. The Libertarian Party [lp.org] is all about the government leaving us alone as much as possible. If that's what you believe, then you should vote Libertarian.
      • by Shakrai (717556)

        It's not a bill, but a party. The Libertarian Party is all about the government leaving us alone as much as possible. If that's what you believe, then you should vote Libertarian.

        Too bad they take it to the other extreme. Zero regulation of businesses, the complete abandonment of any sort of social safety net and privatising everything are just a few of the disagreements that I have with the Libertarian Party.

        Still, I greatly respect their stance on civil liberties. If you could take that plank of the

        • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:13PM (#17067886) Homepage Journal
          Damn, I had to blow off Mod points to respond to this, but...

          "Too bad they take it to the other extreme. Zero regulation of businesses, the complete abandonment of any sort of social safety net and privatising everything are just a few of the disagreements that I have with the Libertarian Party."

          The nature of government past and present tends toward eternal scope creep. If Libertarians were to sweep all 3 branches of the US government tomorrow and hold power for a decade, we would still not live in a system that actually *had* zero regulation of businesses, complete abandonment of any sort of social safety net, or total privatization of all that is currently in the civic sphere.

          Despite my heavy Libertarian sympathies, I do believe that some things *belong* in the public sector. The Libertarian philosophy may appear extreme to you, and it may in fact be extreme. However, Democrats and Republicans alike have lost sight of any sort of sane boundaries on what belongs in the public sector. I can't imagine a pure Libertarian philosophy ever really being actualized, but I think an extreme dose of it would bring sobriety and balance to bear against government's inexorable tendency to intrude further and further into what should be the private sphere.

          Think about it - you surely can see extremity of some sort in the Democrat and Republican parties alike, no? But does this country look entirely like an incarnation of the desires of either one of them? No; it's a hodge-podge of policies -- sometimes contradictory -- hailing from all over the political spectrum. So in the end, infusing the system with a bunch of anti-scope-creep politicians would merely introduce some friction to retard the expansion. Like any other party, if they took it too far, populism would push the pendulum of power away from them and things would drift back in the other direction.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556)
            I won't respond to your points one by one because I largely agree with them. I wasn't saying that I wouldn't vote for a Libertarian candidate either. I only wanted to say that I find a combination of Libertarian and leftist (represented by the Democrats in the US) to be personally appealing. Extreme support for civil liberties, gun rights, choice (abortion), Gov't out of the bedroom, these are all things that I support. If you combined them with some center-left economic policies I think you'd have a ki
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by NineNine (235196)

              I would love to see the Libertarian Party gain enough influence to get their ideas out there in public debate. Unfortunately a lot of the Libertarian candidates that I've met would rather blame the Republicans and the Democrats for "shutting them out".


              That's because the way that states keep ANY party off of the ballot is no less than Consitutionally wrong and simple conspiracy between the Repubs and the Dems. The Libertarians will not compromise on having a free and open democratic system that allows anyb
    • "Need a "Right to be Left The Fuck Alone" Amendment"

      We have those rights. Only that most people are against one or more of them on the grounds of "Protecting the children" or "Minorities" or "Public Safety" or .....

      Next time the government says you can't have This or That kind of gun, nor carry one without permission of the government, stand up and say "LEAVE ME ALONE" along with the few remaining gun toting wackos. See where your "rights" are.

      Live Free or Die!
    • We're fucked.

      Look on the bright side. They just made sure social engineering to obtain personal information on politicians perfectly legal. I think it's time to show them what legal advantages they have given their people. Anyone care to open a public database online in California with government officials personal information? Start with judges, city councel, and the like. Think of the children. Listing all the children's DOB, SSN, school, home address, IM username, ISP, IP address, and such should b
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayaguNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:25AM (#17065674) Journal

    Seems odd when a committee (in this case, an entire senate) deems a law pragmatic enough it goes up for vote with a unanimous (30-0) sendoff and subsequently because of special interest (MPAA allegedly) the final vote skews not only away from unanimous but actually flips the sentiment (bill loses 27-33).

    Consider the gist of the bill (from the article):

    The bill, SB1666, was written by state Sen. Debra Bowen, and would have barred investigators from making "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements or representations to obtain private information about an individual, including telephone calling records, Social Security numbers and financial information. Victims would have had the right to sue for damages.

    This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!

    There are legitimate ways for the entertainment industry to obtain data when prosecuting alleged piracy activity. This isn't one of them. So, the practice (pretexting) remains legal and the MPAA prevails in yet another seamy side of big business buying milquetoast government.

    I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

    The threat continues to loom for providers of excellent technology like TiVo to rein in their features, also ostensibly under pressure.

    The better the technology gets, the less they want us to use it.

    • This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!

      Does this cover the lawyers working for them too? ;)
    • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:44AM (#17066024) Journal
      I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

      This is one of the best examples yet of why one should not upgrade firmware on a device unless there is an immediate need for an update.

      I should think that removing a feature from a purchased item after the fact is grounds for a lawsuit, especially if the packaging and manual list it as a feature. I'd suggest a class action suit demanding the functionality be restored or a refund of your money. Hey, everyone else is suing someone, let's get in on the action!
    • by krell (896769)
      "I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update"

      Make them fix it or pay to take it back, as it is now damaged (through their fault, and not yours)
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!
      [Sarcasm]Well, to be fair, the MPAA only gets to do that with regards to everything but your phone records

      I'm glad the State Legislature could strike such a fair and balanced compromise between the needs of its citizens and the needs of the MPAA[/Sarcasm]

    • by krell (896769)
      "I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update"

      Check this out [i4u.com]: it says that Creative fixed it back.
    • Its possible that the PI lobby had a large effect as well. I can understand their need. Personally I'm all for the sure its illegal, but who's going to prosecute you for rescuing a child standard. Some laws frequently get broken in order to do the greater good, so what...
      • by jackbird (721605)
        Um, no.

        Scratch that, _hell no_.

        You've been watching too many cop shows. "Getting off on a technicality" is what keeps the police honest, and needs to be vigorously defended.

    • I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

      If the feature is broken on the player, send it in to the manufacture to have it repaired. Post the results online in any review. Don't accept no quietly. Thank you for posting that tidbit here. I'll keep watching to see if it's a fluke with your unit or something worthy of a class action.
  • by FatSean (18753) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:26AM (#17065688) Homepage Journal
    But now companies and PIs can too? Can the average guy 'pretext' as well, or will he get punished? I can't really tell from the article.

    Makes me want to break more laws....let's see...what can I do that has a low chance of getting caught...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kimvette (919543)
      Oh, I know this one!

      You could become a Senator and murder someone in a 'car accident'

      Or, you could become President and commit outright treason by subverting the Constitution, and have conservatives who are theoretically outraged by this sort of thing kissing your feet in thanks.

      In short: become a politician
      • by eln (21727)
        My business law professor (who was a lawyer, obviously) back in college said something that I think fits well with this. He said basically that it's better to be a businessman than a lawyer, because lawyers work for businessmen.

        I think you could say it's better to be a businessman than a politician for much the same reason.
    • by B11 (894359)
      If you or I "pretext," then its hacking and social engineering and we get thrown into pound-me-the-ass prison.
  • my thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimstapleton (999106) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:28AM (#17065726) Journal
    I don't see a problem with pretending to be someone else, as long as you have the appropriate licenses/credentials.

    i.e.:
      Pretending to be a everyday/normal person - fine
      Pretending to be a Police Officer without being in the employ of a police agency, or a CPA without the actual degrees and licenses: bad

    I do not agree with falsifying data either:
      "I downloaded these files from the user's hard drive"
      if you did this and have absolute proof - fine
      if you didn't do this and/or "fudged" the numbers, you need jail time.

    what parts of these, with respect to other laws, are impacted by this bill and the changes made?
    • Re:my thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MrTester (860336) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:42AM (#17065978)
      Oh really? So its OK if I call your phone company pretending to be you and get a copy of your phone records?
      Its OK if I call your Satelite/cable provider and get a list of all of the services you signed up for?
      Its OK if I call you bank and get a list of all of your acounts and their balances?

      The problem is not that these people are pretending to be someone they are not, the problem is that they are pretending to be some one in particular and useing that to gain information they could not otherwise gain.

      What the MPAA has just done is say "There is information out there that we cant gain through normal legal channels, so we want to be allowed to gather the information through semi/non-legal channels" and the governemnt said "Oh, OK".
      • well, there are credentials to be a specific person - birth certificates, social security cards, DNA, fingerprints, etc.

        I do *NOT* agree with pretending to be a specific person. So it does affect that then? Yuck.
        • by MrTester (860336)
          I believe this all came about because of the HP board of directors having their investigators get the phone records of its employees and some journalists because HP was looking for information leaks.
          The investigators did this by pretending to be the people whos phone records they wanted.
          They did some research and found out mothers maiden names etc..., and gave sob stories to the customer service folks about why they needed these phone records and got all of the information they wanted.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)
        The problem is not that these people are pretending to be someone they are not, the problem is that they are pretending to be some one in particular and useing that to gain information they could not otherwise gain.

        The problem is not that they are pretending to be someone in particular to gain information, it's that they can gain information by pretending to be someone in particular. The solution is not to prohibit people from pretending, it's for industry to implement some reasonable information security.
    • by Trails (629752)
      Pretending to be a everyday/normal person - fine

      What about pretending to be you? That's how must of this works.

      "Hello, yes this is Mr. Stapleton, I need the complete logs of all my internet traffic for the last 4 years. You're pulling it up now? Great, I'll hold... Hello? Yes, great. Yes I do indeed love the gay porn, but can you tell me about my bittorrent traffic though?"

  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:32AM (#17065794) Homepage
    If you need to stop something illegal, it shouldn't be necessary to lie and impersonate someone to prevent the activity. Why is it necessary to impersonate another to "think of the children" or to stop illegal downloads? If you have proof of a wrong doing, you take it to a judge, get a warrant, and put an end to it. If you don't have proof, then lets end all the witch hunts.
  • Isn't it already a crime to pass yourself off as someone else? I thought it was fraud.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Isn't it already a crime to pass yourself off as someone else?

            Only if you're doing it to get money out of it. IANAL but you can call yourself whatever you want. The minute you file a loan or credit card app under someone else's name, however, you're guilty of fraud.
      • "Only if you're doing it to get money out of it."

        Which makes this very interesting, because the MPAA IS hoping to get money out of the pretexing, through court extortio... err, court settlements.
  • Mitnick? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Pojut (1027544)
    Anyone else curious about what Kevin Mitnick has to say concerning this?
  • What's the difference between pretexting, identity theft, and fraud? My guess is that if you pretext as someone who exists (Hello, my name is Bill Gates...) then identity theft? But if I claim to be Gill Bates (weak attempt at a fictional character, sorry to all Gill Bates' out there) then you enter fraud territory. But now what constitutes fraud? Doesn't there have to be a demonstrable harm for Fraud to exist...

    I'm not a lawyer, so please explain this stuff to me.

    Also it is perfectly legal to have a

  • But, but, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SengirV (203400) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:42AM (#17065980)
    Wouldnt' any bill allow for exceptions like the use of pretexting for criminal investigations? Seems like a pretty flimsy excuse for downgrading the bill.

    So it all just comes down to who has the biggest pockets.

    Current breakdown of the California State Senate - 25 DNCers, 15 GOPers. But I thought only GOPers who bow to big business?

    Wake up people, no party is free of Big Business.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Wouldnt' any bill allow for exceptions like the use of pretexting for criminal investigations? Seems like a pretty flimsy excuse for downgrading the bill.

      Ah, but recall that copyright infringement cases by the *AA's are proceeding in civil court.

      Which means an industry has successfully lobbied to be able to lie, cheat, and steal so they can pursue their own agenda -- which has nothing to do with criminal investigations.

      It also means that instead of making what the executives at HP did/paid for illegal, they

  • by rlp (11898)
    after heavy last-minute lobbying by the MPAA

    How did state senators know that they were really MPAA lobbyists?
  • by PMuse (320639) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:50AM (#17066154)
    In a final 'think of the children' bid, the California Association of Licensed Investigators also opposed the bill, saying it needed to be able to use pretexting to help find missing children, among other things."

    Riiiight. Because a carve-out for protecting kids would just have been impossible to write in.

    It couldn't be that the real money in PI work might be in divorce/adultery, paparazzi-ing, or industrial disputes.
  • by davermont (1001265) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:54AM (#17066220)
    On the one hand we have the RIAA trying entrap media pirates under false pretenses. On the other, we have Universal trying to extort royalties for mp3 player manufacturers because they are "repositories for stolen music": http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/29/ 2328222 [slashdot.org]. So I'm supposed to pay a tax on my mp3 player to keep the RIAA at bay, and then go home and not download free music? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:01PM (#17066356) Homepage
    We all need to give up a little of our privacy so that we can secure the interests of our economy. And by our economy, I mean the few people who continue to control our lives for profit while the middle class declines into poverty and debt.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:07PM (#17066466) Homepage Journal
    Deceit in these cases is practiced to obtain information disclosures. It is an imposition of the deciever's wishes over those of the deceived. The question should, then be this: does the deciever have a fundamental right to the information he is seeking?

    So, outlaw pretexting except where it is used to obtain information that, if it were in the posession of an officer of the law, that officer would have a duty to disclose.

    For example, you are a police officer who finds out Mr. X, who is in a custody dispute with Mrs. X, has kidnapped the children. You would have a duty to disclose to Mrs. X the whereabout of those children.

    However suppose you know Mr. X is having an affair with Ms. Y. You have no duty to tell Mrs. X this, and depending on how you found out you may have a duty not to tell.

    In the case of the MPAA, if they are seeking evidence that people are illegally sharing materials whose copyright they hold, this is information to which they have a well established legal right. However, they have no right to other kinds of information they could gain by pretexting, such as who your friends are.

    By creating exceptions to a law against preteting, we are in a sense deputizing private parties to conduct searches by force. This entails some invasion of privacy. An officer of the law may obtain sensitive private information while executing a warrant, but if the information is not relevant to some sort of crime he may not disclose it. Neither should a private party acting under an exception to the law against pretexting be allowed to go on a fishing expedition.

    Therefore groups using pretexting should be forbidden to use any information they gain as a result unless it is relevant to an exempted purpose.

    So, if a record company looks for copyright infringement for its copyrights and finds infringement on another company's copyright, that is disclosable. They can't, however, create a database of music preferences for marketing purposes.

  • Somehow I don't think it can be easily or casually justified to collect evidence of a crime and/or infringement through deceptive or inappropriate measures. Somehow HP and the parties involved are in serious hot water over their use of pretexting (and by that I mean lying to acquire information to which they are not legally entitled) among other things. I think that if the MPAA were to use the same tactics, it should be equally illegal. So at the very least, if they were to present evidence in court or e
  • by element-o.p. (939033) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:19PM (#17066690) Homepage
    ... IF the judges in cases involving the MPAA remember that, in order to get this proposed law defeated in California, the MPAA essentially admitted that it lies and falsifies information in the course of a piracy investigation >:)

    I can see the court transcript now: Judge: And how, exactly, were you able to obtain this evidence? **AA: Your honor, we lied and falsified information, but everything we tell you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...honest. Judge: Riiiiiiiiight.....
  • This will only hurt the poor. The rich will have the money necessary to setup "blinds" so that they can say, "I got this information from informant X, who I can only contact via e-mail. I'm legally entitled to have it, although I don't know how X got it or where in the world X is."
  • Yet another case where a corporation has illegally (IMHO) lobbied against a bill that would had been good for the citizens. A bill like this should clear committees then if it fails in house/senate go a voter ballot item. The bill was written for the good of the citizens - it should be voted on by the citizens if it passes legal checks (such as that it does not violate state/federal constitutions).


    "Corporations have been enthroned...an era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power wi
  • "was struck down"--I thought that phrase was generally used when a court invalidates or rules against passage of some particular legislation.

    It sounds like what happened here was that a draft version of the legislation was initially agreed upon was pared down to make it more limited.
    MPAA influence or not, the version that went forward was more prudent and less likely to be actually struck down, indicative of how the legislative process is actually SUPPOSED to work.
  • to be accurate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:26PM (#17066836) Journal
    The MPAA told legislators 'We need to pose as someone other than who we are to stop illegal downloading,' and thus killed the bill when it came up for a final vote.

    To be more accurate, one would say:
    "The MPAA told legislators that it needed this bill killed, presumeably either threatening to pull their financial contributions to said legislators, or offering contributions if the legislator agreed to vote the way they wanted. The MPAA approached sufficient legislators to find enough of them that a sufficient percentage were willing to sell their vote to kill the bill. Like well-paid prostitutes, they did exactly what was asked and thereby prevented the bill from passing."

    The MPAA can't kill any bills. It takes whores in the legislature to do that.
  • by Tungbo (183321) on Friday December 01, 2006 @02:13PM (#17069092)
    That sounds like the best approach to getting around the bought assembly.

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