News organizations, consumer watchdog groups and political bloggers have been quick to demonstrate the ease with which consumer telephone logs can be purchased from online unregulated vendors. EPIC, which details 40 websites that offer these for sale, has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to establish more stringent security standards for phone companies, which collect sensitive information, including logs of calls that subscribers make on their phones. This week, Senator Harry Reid sent a letter to the FCC requesting they investigate this violation of privacy as a danger to national security.
The advent of the Internet, a minimally regulated environment, gives merchants access to a new, enormous audience. Increased visibility has also brought more scrutiny to investigative methods, which in the past were little known outside of a small world.
Recently the Chicago Police Department and the FBI have reported concern that they may be under threat or their investigations compromised by nefarious types gaining access to their agents’ cell phone logs. Erine Rizzo, the Illinois PI who unabashedly proclaims his frequent purchase of phone records, is hitching a ride on this super nova story. Why is it that the private investigators who freely spout about the grey market data they can secure aren’t members of their state PI organizations?
Information gathering approaches that could be ethically applied to execute court issued judgments, court mandated due diligence or the tracking of missing people are curtailed through current state and federal laws limiting access to motor vehicle, voter registration and financial records.