Posted by Merrill Baumann
What high-tech gadgetry do you need to get complete records of phone calls made and received by another? An internet connection and a credit card will do the trick. Criticism is mounting over the ease in which anyone can obtain phone records of others.
Magazine reporters recently visited the offices of Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, and produced records of calls at her Montreal home, vacation chalet, and on her government-issued cell phone. And in the US, EPIC has submitted comments to the FCC arguing that the agency needs to intervene to protect individuals' phone records from online data brokers. There are over 40 companies that claim to obtain this information, within hours, for anyone who is willing to pay for it. And in some cases (called "pretexting"), all they do is call the phone company, pretend to be the owner of the number, and simply ask for the records, with no verification procedures used by the carrier.
The sheer number of firms involved suggest that it is a robust business. The troubling questions are, "who is buying this information, and what is being done with it?"