Feeds

Pretexting banned in the US

Privacy gets its Act together

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The kind of surveillance activities carried out on behalf of computing giant Hewlett-Packard which caused controversy last year have been made illegal in the US thanks to a new law.

President George W Bush has signed an Act which outlaws pretexting, the practice of gaining information about a third party's phone use without their permission.

The federal legislation signed by Bush was the Federal Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act. It creates criminal penalties for "the fraudulent or unauthorised acquisition or disclosure of confidential phone records information", according to a statement from the White House.

The Act was approved by the Senate in December last year and was signed by Bush on Friday. It creates penalties of up to 10 years in prison for anyone found to have broken the law. The punishment can be doubled if the activity is found to be on a large scale, which the Act defines as involving more than $100,000 or more than 50 victims.

Though the legislation was passed by the House of Representatives in April 2006 before being held up by the Senate, it became high profile news when HP's activities came to light.

An inquiry into leaks from HP's board resulted in the use of pretexting to discover details of board members' private telephone calls on non-HP phones. The activity, which was carried out by firms contracted directly or indirectly to HP, became public last August and prompted an outcry.

It later emerged that people acting for HP had also obtained phone records of journalists, had sent a fake email to one with a surveillance code in it and had even physically tracked one journalist.

HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn resigned over the affair and a federal prosecution is ongoing. In that case one investigator, Bryan Wagner of Colorado, has just pleaded guilty to identity theft and conspiracy charges.

Wagner's lawyer said that Wagner would testify on behalf of the prosecution in what is a major victory for prosecutors in their attempts to trace the charges back to more senior investigators and perhaps to HP itself.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.