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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Second Phone Data Privacy Bill Approved

Targeting both telephone data brokers and telecoms, a House panel today approved legislation that bans the sale, lease or rental of confidential telephone records.  The bill also strengthens the ability of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to pursue the thriving online black-market sale of phone data.  It is now an express violation of the FTC Act for a person to use false pretenses to obtain or sell confidential phone data, a practice widely known as pretexting.  In addition, the legislation mandates that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) write stricter regulations for telecoms to protect the confidential phone data of their customers.

“Living in the information age can be a boon to our prosperity and a bane to our privacy, but nothing says we have to take the bad along with the good,” House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) said.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, telephone carriers are obligated to protect the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) of consumers, but last summer the privacy watchdog Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) complained to the FCC that confidential phone records are readily available for sale on the Internet.  The telephone carriers say their customer service representatives are being tricked out of the information through pretexting.

Posted on 03/08