April 9, 2007 | By Rebecca Jeschke

RIAA and MPAA Try to Gut Anti-Pretexting Bill

Remember the Hewlett-Packard pretexting scandal of last year? Private investigators hired by HP obtained phone records of journalists and its own board members by pretending to be the individuals themselves. The scandal was the catalyst for a congressional investigation, and some California lawmakers decided consumers needed more protection from these privacy violations. State Sen. Ellen Corbett introduced SB 328, a bill that would ban the use of false statements and other misleading practices to get personal information.

Good news for Californians, right? Not if the entertainment industry has anything to say about it. The RIAA and the MPAA are reportedly lobbying legislators for amendments to the bill. According to the Los Angeles Times, those amendments would allow pretexting if a company was trying to enforce its intellectual property rights. EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann believes this carve-out would gut the bill altogether. As he said in the Times article, "I don't see why the recording industry shouldn't have to follow the same laws that everyone else follows... It appears they want to make the loophole so big that nobody else has to follow the law, either." Copyright shouldn't trump privacy. We hope the California State Senate agrees.

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