Monday, February 13, 2006

Federal Legislation Is Proposed To Criminalize Seeking or Selling Telephone Data

Legislation that would criminalize obtaining, selling or, under some circumstances, possessing, telephone customer information, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Law Enforcement and Phone Privacy Protection Act of 2006, H.R. 4709 would, "amend title 18, United States Code, to strengthen protections for law enforcement officers and the public by providing criminal penalties for the fraudulent acquisition or unauthorized disclosure of phone records." Phone records that are linked to subscribers include their call history -telephone calls made on that phone line- but also just the subscriber name and address.

The ostensible reason for the blanket prohibition, which does not exempt anyone other than law enforcement, is because disclosure
"...not only assaults individual privacy but, in some instances, may further acts of domestic violence, compromise the personal safety of law enforcement officers, their families, or confidential informants, and undermine the integrity of law enforcement investigations."
I haven't seen any media reports that cite instances of law enforcement safety or investigations being compromised. I imagine the people who access records for that reason aren't going to be too concerned about the 5 years they could get in the can.