THE MAGAZINE

Privacy

Several bills that would prohibit the sale of telephone records to third parties have been approved by congressional committees. Though the bills vary slightly in detail, they all would impose stiff penalties on violators. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved S. 2178, which would prohibit obtaining confidential phone records by fraud or any other unauthorized means from a telecommunications carrier or IP-enabled service provider. Under the measure, the sale of such records by anyone is punishable by up to five years in prison. The penalty doubles for repeat violations within a 12-month period, and for violations involving more than $100,000 or more than 50 customers. Law enforcement activities are exempt under the bill. Two related bills (H.R. 4709 and H.R. 4714) have been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

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