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Pretexting Ban Goes To Bush: Will He Sign?

December 12, 2006

An anti-pretexting bill passed in the U.S. Senate by a voice vote just before Friday's adjournment is on its way to President Bush.

We don't know yet if he will sign the measure. But given the voice vote, and Bush's rare use of the Presidential veto power, (one time in six years) signing is probably somewhat likely.

Drawn up largely in response to Hewlett-Packard's allegedly hiring investigators to spy on phone records of Internet journalists talking to disillusioned board member about company matters, the legislation prohibits obtaining "confidential phone records by "making false or fraudulent statements" to a phone company employee, by "obtaining false or fraudulent documents to access accounts" or by "accessing customer accounts through the Internet" without authorization.

Punishment is fines and imprisonment up to ten years. If the transgression involves more than 50 customers or $100,000 in related violations, fines can be doubled and the sentence extended to 15 years.

The statute, HR 4709, does not ban pretexting anti-terrorism or police investigations.

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