DMA Condemns Illegal Release of Telephone Records; Calls for Stronger Penalties, Increased Enforcement Resources
February 1, 2006 – The Direct Marketing Association yesterday announced it supports strong penalties and increased enforcement resources to identify and prosecute individuals and companies that illegally sell or obtain customer proprietary network information (CPNI).
In the past couple weeks, there has been increased attention to instances in which consumer telephone records are illegally obtained and sold without the consumer's knowledge or authorization. It appears that some individuals and companies are circumventing the law and illegally obtaining consumers' telephone records:
· By employees of the telephone companies who accept money to release information;
· By pretexting (e.g., an employee of one of the data brokers calls a telephone company pretending to be the consumer and obtains confidential information; and/or
· By obtaining access to customer records online. These companies then sell consumer telephone records for a modest fee.
The DMA strongly condemns such practices, which in addition to being illegal, violate DMA's Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice," said Patricia Kachura, DMA's senior vice president for ethics and consumer affairs. "We strongly encourage companies that handle consumers' personal data to implement sound security procedures and be vigilant in making certain that employees are complying with the law."
While there are already a number of laws in place that prohibit the sale or purchase of illegal telephone records, the Federal government and Congress have announced additional actions in recent weeks.
The FTC and FCC are cooperating on investigations, and several bills have been introduced in Congress that would impose criminal penalties for releasing or fraudulently obtaining certain telephone records. Similar legislation has also been introduced in several states, and major wireless carriers have sued the companies primarily responsible for providing access to telephone numbers.
DMA fully supports stronger penalties for data criminals and increased resources for law enforcement officials to identify and prosecute offenders. And because such criminals often work beyond US borders, DMA continues to support increased "cross-border" authority for the Federal Trade Commission to pursue cooperative efforts with international regulatory and law enforcement officials.
More information about DMA's Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice and commitment to data security can be found online at www.the-dma.org/guidelines.
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