~ the legal status of telephone toll records acquisition ~

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sent the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) an addendum to their earlier request that the FTC investigate information brokers who are selling telephone toll records through the Internet. The new and refreshing element in this EPIC missive is the positive nod to professional investigators. Much of the credit goes to the National Council for Investigative and Security Services (NCISS) and California’s own Francie Koehler:

[A]n Oakland, Calif. private investigator said it’s a dangerous practice for PIs to take clients over the Internet. “Any time you provide information to another individual, you need to know who they are,” said Francie Koehler, a member of the California Association of Licensed Investigators. “That’s the part people working over the Internet miss. They don’t know their client.”

Unlike their earlier petition requesting the FTC to impose more stringent rulemaking on the release of proprietary customer information, in which EPIC slammed investigators, the update distinguished the fly-by-night, quick-buck “investigator” from those who work within the law. This is a welcomed shift in attitude and may lay some foundation for a constructive relationship.

On a negative note, a former PI fuels the fire, telling ABC News just how information brokers gather sensitive personal information, including telephone call records.

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