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The Courts Government Privacy News

US Judge Bars Unauthorized Sales of Phone Records 69

The Register delivers the good news that a US federal judge had slapped down the practice of pretexting and ordered a Wyoming company to pay almost $200,000; AccuSearch was also permanently barred from selling individuals' phone records without their permission. The FTC had filed suit in 2006 against the company and four others. AccuSearch had advertised a service that made phone records of any individual available for a fee. The current article makes no mention of whatever became of the other four accused data brokers.
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US Judge Bars Unauthorized Sales of Phone Records

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  • by Phantombrain ( 964010 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:30AM (#22218232) Journal
    Since when has the US government cared about the privacy of individuals?
  • Paint me stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 1195047 ) <philip DOT paradis AT palegray DOT net> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:33AM (#22218246) Homepage Journal
    How in the hell did this firm gain access to peoples' phone records in the first place? I guess I don't know enough about how this works, but I thought it was illegal for the phone company to provide such records to a private firm without a court order. Hell, even cops have to get warrants to go through phone records, right?
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:20AM (#22218524)
    But a judge telling a firm that they can't do it any more isn't NEARLY as good as congress making it a big ol' Federal No-No. So, c'mon, Pelosi. Reid? Where's all of that protect-the-little-guy stuff? Hillary? Obama? Where are the firey populist bits about how they'll use their party's control of congress to work on this sort of thing? Well, first things first. Like... hearings on steroid use in baseball leagues.
  • Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:04AM (#22218726)
    Perhaps I would be more impressed if the ruling said that all companies, including phone carriers, had to get customer approval before selling records via an opt-in waiver separate from their service agreement. I imagine most carriers have some sentence in the fine print saying that by taking their service you're agreeing by default to let them use your data.

    Oh, wait. They do. Hence we all have to run around to every company we do business with and make phone calls, check boxes on online forms, and send postcards to opt-out of their information selling.
  • by ( 1195047 ) <philip DOT paradis AT palegray DOT net> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:09AM (#22218742) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see criminal charges pressed for this sort of behavior. Surely the employees taking these actions couldn't possibly use the defense of "I was just doing my job." That would be like low level dope peddlers claiming they only sold their product under duress from their "boss." Anyone care to do a little digging on exactly what criminal statutes might have been broken here?
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:33AM (#22218820) Homepage
    So all of this could've been avoided if the phone companies would only send records to the addresses registered in their system for the client requesting their phone records?
  • by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @03:52AM (#22218866) Homepage
    It doesn't take digging to find out what the violated statute is. It is fraud. Wire fraud if done over the phone like it usually is. The thing I don't get is how the phone companies can justify giving phone records for one phone number to someone calling from another. The reply should be, "Call us back from the phone you want the records to." It won't stop all the fraud but it will make it that much harder.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:04PM (#22223056)
    As long as legitimate customers have access to their accounts, so will anyone else who cares to look.

    Changing your address won't work. People get around that problem by simply forwarding your mail, which anyone can do to anyone else, for free even! And then restoring it to the old address when they get what they want. Or yeah, simply stopping by your house and grabbing your mail.

    All of the security, encryption, firewalls and passwords in the world won't stop someone from calling you on the phone and just simply asking for what they want. And probably 70% of the time it works.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?