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

Librem 5 Phone Progress Report

  • Librem 5 Phone Progress Report – The First of Many More to Come!
    First, let me apologize for the silence. It was not because we went into hibernation for the winter, but because we were so busy in the initial preparation and planning of a totally new product while orienting an entirely new development team. Since we are more settled into place now, we want to change this pattern of silence and provide regular updates. Purism will be giving weekly news update posts every Tuesday, rotating between progress on phone development from a technology viewpoint (the hardware, kernel, OS, etc.) and an art of design viewpoint (UI/UX from GNOME/GTK to KDE/Plasma). To kickoff this new update process, this post will discus the technological progress of the Librem 5 since November of 2017.
  • Purism Eyeing The i.MX8M For The Librem 5 Smartphone, Issues First Status Update
    If you have been curious about the state of Purism's Librem 5 smartphone project since its successful crowdfunding last year and expedited plans to begin shipping this Linux smartphone in early 2019, the company has issued their first status update.

Benchmarking Retpoline-Enabled GCC 8 With -mindirect-branch=thunk

We have looked several times already at the performance impact of Retpoline support in the Linux kernel, but what about building user-space packages with -mindirect-branch=thunk? Here is the performance cost to building some performance tests in user-space with -mindirect-branch=thunk and -mindirect-branch=thunk-inline. Read more

An introduction to Inkscape for absolute beginners

Inkscape is a powerful, open source desktop application for creating two-dimensional scalable vector graphics. Although it's primarily an illustration tool, Inkscape is used for a wide range of computer graphic tasks. The variety of what can be done with Inkscape is vast and sometimes surprising. It is used to make diagrams, logos, programmatic marketing materials, web graphics, and even for paper scrapbooking. People also draw game sprites, produce banners, posters, and brochures. Others use Inkscape to draft web design mockups, detail layouts for printed circuit boards, or produce outline files to send to laser cutting equipment. Read more

Behind the scenes with Pop!_OS Linux

In October, Linux PC maker System76 released its homegrown version of Linux, Pop!_OS, giving users the choice between its legacy Ubuntu operating system or the new Pop!_OS flavor of Linux. Recently Opensource.com gave away a System76 laptop with Pop!_OS installed, which made me curious about the company and this new version of Linux, so I spoke with Cassidy James Blaede, Pop!_OS's user experience (UX) designer. Blaede joined System76 in 2014, fresh out of college at the University of Northern Iowa and marriage to his wife, Katie. While in college, he co-founded the elementary OS project and interned at UX consultancy Visual Logic, both of which influenced his work for System76. He started at System76 as a front-end developer and was later promoted to UX architect. Read more