Feeds

Pretexting banned in the US

Privacy gets its Act together

High performance access to file storage

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.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.