California and Texas follow the lead of other states criminalizing sales of telephone subscriber data

The California legislature, adding its imprint to a politician’s dream issue, is considering Assembly Bill 2838, “an act to add Section 530.1 to the Penal Code, and to amend Section 2891 of the Public Utilities Code, relating to telephone records.”

If instituted this bill, codified as PC 530.1, offers 1 year in the slammer to any “person who willfully obtains a telephone calling pattern record or list of another person without that person’s consent…” Since jail time is not punishment enough, the legislation also includes a specific provision for the collection of civil penalties.

A subscriber may bring an action against any individual, business association, partnership, limited partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or other entity that knowingly obtains, procures, sells, or distributes a telephone calling pattern record or list without the subscriber’s written consent, and upon proof by a preponderance of evidence, shall be entitled to judgment for actual damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, costs of suit, and any other equitable relief, including disgorgement of any monetary or other gain, that the court deems appropriate.

So many state legislatures are considering laws criminalizing the selling of telephone subscriber information that I haven’t kept a list.

Florida Attorney General Crist just charged Global Information Group, Inc. with unlawfully obtaining and selling confidential telephone records. This is the second charge this month he brought claiming a violation of the business fair practices act.

In typical Texas fashion, the legislature is seeking a 20 year jail term for anyone soliciting or selling customer phone records. And the Texas AG has filed suit against a telephone information broker.

Lest we forget, there are the federal bills: S. 2264: Consumer Phone Record Security Act of 2006; H.R. 4714: Phone Records Protection Act of 2006; S. 2178: Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act of 2006; and S. 2177: Phone Records Protection Act of 2006.

There’s a tidal wave. It’s just a matter of time before the states or the feds bring this wall of water to our shores.


4 thoughts on “California and Texas follow the lead of other states criminalizing sales of telephone subscriber data

  1. obviously this information should not be available to the general public. it should, however, be available to licensed investigators who can demonstrate their need for the information.

  2. The NCIS is taking the lead in defending the Private Investigators rights to such records when needed to locate felons, and other targets who are in violation of the laws. They have a position statement that we as private investigators should support and defend our rights to data in those cases where crimes or other offenses have taken place as well as in divorce situations. Telephone records do NOT solve cases the add information to assist the investigator in determining what his next act will be.

  3. Reselling of customer telephone information on the public Internet should be stopped. I’d refer you back to my post, “Private investigators argue for conditional restraints on release of phone data” ( to get a sense of what you call my “unenlightened self interest” and why licensed PIs with a permissible purpose should be able to access telephone subscriber information.

  4. What does “politician’s dream issue” mean? So these guys want to stop you from getting other peoples’ phone records? Dream issue? How about this–independent of your unenlightened self interest, there are people who think you shouldn’t be able to get these records. Some of them happen to be elected officials.

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