Friday, February 09, 2007

“Pretexting” Bill Proposed as Part of Privacy Push

This posting was written by Ted Gotsch of Telecommunications Reports International, Inc.

Top lawmakers on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled proposed legislation to prohibit parties from “pretexting” (fraudulently obtaining of phone records) and to beef up security requirements for customer proprietary network information (CPNI).

Committee Chairman John Dingell (D., Mich.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) introduced the Prevention of Fraudulent Access to Phone Records Act (H.R. 936) on February 8, as part of a slate of measures tackling privacy matters during National Consumer Protection Week. Mr. Dingell said the committee plans to make quick work of all of them.

"We intend to process these bills by regular order in the committee and report them expeditiously to the House," he said. "We will work cooperatively with other committees to resolve jurisdictional differences, and with stakeholders (government regulators, consumer groups, and business) to resolve policy issues."

Rep. Barton said he hoped the panel would approve the proposal, as it approved a similar measure last year.

"Pretexting is pretending to be somebody you're not, to get something you probably shouldn't have, to use in a way that's probably wrong," he said. "This committee did its part last year to pass a bill that made it abundantly clear where the federal government stands regarding pretexting for personal records. . . . and I hope we do it again.”

The bill would outlaw the obtaining of CPNI under false pretenses and would bar the sale or disclosure of phone records gleaned in a fraudulent manner. The Federal Trade Commission would be charged with enforcing the law.

The measure is the second House bill introduced this week that attempts to tackle the pretexting issue. Reps. Jay Inslee (D., Wash.) and Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) also reintroduced a measure they sponsored last session. H.R. 852, introduced on February 6, would prohibit the acquisition of customer information from telecommunications carriers by false pretenses and the sale or disclosure of such records obtained by false pretenses.

Telecommunications Reports International Inc. is a division of Aspen Publishers Inc., a Wolters Kluwer Company. Further information about Telecommunications Reports is available at

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