Feeds

Judge bars unauthorized sales of phone records

Pretexting rebuffed

Boost IT visibility and business value

In a victory for privacy advocates, a federal judge has ordered a US company to pay almost $200,000 and barred it from selling the phone records of individuals' phone records without their permission.

US District Judge William F. Downes of Wyoming entered a permanent injunction against a company called AccuSearch and its principal, Jay Patel. They advertised a service on a website called Abika-dot-com that made phone records of any individual available for a fee. Privacy watchdogs at the Federal Trade Commission filed suit in 2006, alleging the practice was illegal.

Downes agreed that the obtaining and selling of phone records without the owners' consent was necessarily accomplished through illegal means, according to this release from the FTC. He went on to say that the service represented a menace to consumers in the form of stalkers, identity thieves and costs of changing phone carriers.

Attempts to reach AccuSearch and Patel for comment were unsuccessful. The company has said it plans to appeal the ruling, according to court records.

The ruling comes two years after Hewlett-Packard spied on reporters and board members in an attempt to identify individuals who were leaking information to the media. Among the controversial steps taken was the practice of pretexting, in which investigators called phone companies and pretended to be reporters who wanted a copy of their phone bills.

The FTC has alleged that phone bills constitute confidential information. According to its lawsuit against AccuSearch, Abika-dot-com claimed it could acquire the phone records, including outgoing and incoming calls, of any individual. FTC attorneys argued that using false pretenses, fraudulent statements and fraudulent or stolen documents to induce carriers to disclose records was illegal.

Downes also shot down AccuSearch's claims that it had immunity under the US Communications Decent Act because it actively participated in the creation or development of the content on the Abika site.

AccuSearch was ordered to surrender $199,692 in sales earned from the record sales. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?