Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action

Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009

27 Feb 2010 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This past week the Senate, by unanimous consent, passed S 30, the “Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009”, to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit manipulation of caller identification. This is an anti-spoofing bill making it unlawful for any person within the U.S., in connection with any telecommunication service or IP-enabled voice service (VOIP), to cause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value, unless such transmission is exempted pursuant to paragraph (3)(B)…”  

This Senate bill, which has now been sent over to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is a bill with which our profession feels it can abide with the “Intent” provision as set forth above.  That House committee has an identical bill pending, HR 1238 sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel [D-NY-17] and Ranking member Rep. Joe Barton [R-TX-6].

Without the necessity of hyperbole since the truth is a bigger story, volunteers from ISPLA at their own expense, met with Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott [D-VA-3]  during their recent visit to Washington to participate in the Department of Justice Symposium on Indigent Defense.  In addition to our discussing with Rep. Scott his interest in addressing problems regarding the criminal justice system, we were also aware that has an anti-spoofing bill.  He sponsored HR 1110, the “Preventing Harassment through Outbound Number Enforcement Act of 2009” or “Phone Act” which passed in the House on December 16th by a vote of 418 to1.

The “PHONE Act of 2009” would provide federal criminal penalties for certain types of caller ID spoofing, which occurs when a caller uses a false caller ID during a telephone call in order to hide the caller's true identity.  The bill would prohibit the use of false caller ID information in order to wrongfully obtain anything of value.   It would also prohibit the use of a person's caller ID without their consent and with the intent to deceive the recipient of the call. 

The bill would not affect legitimate business or personal disguise of one's true caller ID.  Use of a single number or name for multiple callers, "Private Caller", or other disguises where there is no purpose to wrongfully obtain something of value from the person called or where it is not a knowing use of an actual person's caller ID with intent to deceive another, would continue to be legal.

"This bill is an important means of preventing identity theft and ensuring the privacy of our citizens while allowing continued disguises of a caller's identity for privacy or other legitimate purposes," said Congressman Scott. 

In recent years, spoofing has become more commonplace, leading to increased security vulnerabilities and identity theft.  Spoofing technology has become readily available, either through the purchase of Internet telephone equipment or through Web sites specifically set up to spoof.  Because caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to come from any phone number, it has the ability to cause fraud, damaged credit and financial ruin.  Call recipients sometimes divulge personal and private information to the spoofer, under the mistaken belief that it is a legitimate call.  However, use of such technology is a legitimate investigative tool when not used to defraud or cause harm.


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