Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

FTC Urged to Probe Personal Data Sellers

Filed under
Security

A privacy rights advocacy group has asked the Federal Trade Commission to examine whether websites advertising investigative services capable of digging up personal information such as phone call records are violating federal laws.

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the federal agency Thursday, singling out Encinitas, Calif.-based Intelligent E-Commerce Inc., which runs Bestpeoplesearch.com.

"We've asked the FTC to begin an industrywide investigation into these practices," Chris Hoofnagle, senior counsel at the group's San Francisco office, said Friday.

The advocacy group contends that the company's services and those of hundreds of similar online investigation firms constitute unfair or deceptive business practices.

The website offers to find personal information on individuals including unlisted phone numbers and addresses, detailed phone records, employment history and motor vehicle data.

The firm also offers to identify the owner of a post-office box and to provide information on an individual's criminal records. A list on the website Friday of the firm's most popular searches included finding a person's name and address from the person's cellphone number and obtaining a list of calls made from a cell number.

"If you own a post-office box, your ownership of that is private. That information is being sold," Hoofnagle said. "Your land line and cellphone billing records are being offered for sale. These are also protected by statute."

Some services aggregate and resell information from public records such as listed phone numbers, addresses and, in states where it's allowed, driver's license records.

But the privacy rights group says that's different from what online investigation services like Intelligent E-Commerce do.

The group accuses the firm and similar companies of procuring private information on phone records, for instance, by posing as the targets of their searches to gain access to their online billing sites or to get copies of bills.

"They're not buying it, they're calling up and they're pretending to be the actual customer to get the data," Hoofnagle said.

Neither the FTC nor Intelligent E-Commerce returned requests for comment.

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Lenovo G50 & CentOS 7.2 MATE - Fairly solid

Is there a perfect track record for any which distro? No. Do any two desktop environments ever behave the same? No. Is there anything really good and cool about the MATE offering? Yes, definitely. It's not the finest, but it's definitely quite all right. You do get very decent hardware support, adequate battery life and good performance, smartphone and media support is top notch, and your applications will all run happily. On the other hand, you will struggle with Samba and Bluetooth, and there are some odd issues here and there. I think the Gnome and Xfce offerings are better, but MATE is not to be dissed as a useless relic. Far from it, this is definitely an option you ought to consider if you're into less-than-mainstream desktops, and you happen to like CentOS. To sum it all up, another goodie in the growing arsenal of CentOS fun facts. Enjoy. Read more

digiKam 5.2.0 is published...

After a second release 5.1.0 published one month ago, the digiKam team is proud to announce the new release 5.2.0 of digiKam Software Collection. This version introduces a new bugs triage and some fixes following new feedback from end-users. This release introduce also a new red eyes tool which automatize the red-eyes effect reduction process. Faces detection is processed on whole image and a new algorithm written by a Google Summer of Code 2016 student named Omar Amin is dedicated to recognize shapes and try to found eyes with direct flash reflection on retina. Read more

Games for GNU/Linux

Linux Graphics