WASHINGTON--The appearance of Gen. Wesley Clark's wireless phone records on an Internet blog last week seems to have touched a nerve as legislators scramble to address the issue of the selling of such records.
The blog, called Americablog, posted the general's records last week, calling attention to some firms that sell wireless phone records that are taken without the customer's knowledge, even though the practice is against the law.
CTIA had condemned the practice when the records were posted and noted prosecutions of companies that sold the records haven't yet been zealously pursued by the government.
The reports seem to have spurred a number of efforts by Congress to prevent the mining of wireless phone records. Sen. Harry Reid, R-Nev., requested last Friday that the FCC look into how companies are getting access to the records to sell them
Now Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is about to introduce new legislation that takes aim at companies using false pretenses to gain access to, and ultimately sell, consumer telephone records. Risa Heller, a spokeswoman in Schumer's office, said the legislation would be introduced tomorrow.
Also last week, Cingular Wireless obtained a temporary restraining order against 1st Source Information specialists and Data Find Solutions that alleged the companies "unlawfully obtained and disseminated" customer records. 1st Source operates, according to Cingular, locatecell.com and celltolls.com. "These companies or their representatives obtained customer records through fraudulent means, such as by posing as customers seeking information about their own accounts," Cingular said in a statement.
CTIA spokesman Joe Farren welcomed the attention to the issue, saying his organization has long believed in applying existing state fraud law that prevents an entity from impersonating another. He added that, even so, the organization welcomed Schumer's take on new rules.