Wednesday, February 22, 2006

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Attorney General Abbott Supports Congressman Lamar Smith’S Legislation To Protect Private Phone Records

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today praised new federal legislation proposed by Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, which would protect consumers and law enforcement officials from the fraudulent sale or solicitation of confidential phone records. The bill, filed as H.R. 4709, coincides with Attorney General Abbott’s recently announced lawsuit against USA Skiptrace for peddling phone records without Texas consumers’ knowledge or consent.

“I applaud Congressman Lamar Smith’s action on this very important issue,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The sale of personal cell phone information is an outrageous invasion of personal privacy that will not be tolerated in Texas.”

Media links
Congressman Lamar Smith's bill, H.R. 4709, The Law Enforcement and Phone Privacy Protection Act of 2006
Congressman Lamar Smith's news release about H.R. 4709
Attorney General Abbott's Lawsuit Against USASkipTrace.com
Temporary Restraining Order Against USASkipTrace.com

Congressman Smith agreed, saying, “These practices assault our individual privacy, and may even contribute to stalking or other crimes of violence. We must ensure that the best interests of consumers and law enforcement officials are taken into account and fully protected from the unauthorized release of private call information.”

H.R. 4709, also called the Law Enforcement and Phone Privacy Protection Act of 2006, would impose criminal penalties of up to 20 years in prison against those who sell or knowingly purchase confidential phone records using fraudulent schemes, such as impersonating the consumer or posing as someone lawfully authorized to receive the information.

The new legislation also seeks to protect the personal safety of law enforcement officers and victims of domestic violence by enhancing the criminal penalties against individuals who receive or sell confidential information with the knowledge that it will be used in a criminal act.

Congressman Smith’s bipartisan measure is also sponsored by John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich.; Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Chris Cannon, R-Utah; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Joe Wilson, R-S.C.; Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D.; and Dave Reichert, R-Wash.

On Feb. 9, Attorney General Abbott announced Texas’ first lawsuit against a data broker and his companies -- USA Skiptrace, AMS Research Services Inc. and Worldwide Investigations Inc. -- for fraudulently marketing consumers’ private phone records in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

To obtain additional information about H.R. 4709, contact Congressman Smith’s press office at (202) 225-4236.