A tough California bill that would have prohibited companies and individuals from using deceptive “pretexting” ruses to steal private information about consumers was killed after determined lobbying by the motion picture industry, Wired News has learned.
The bill, SB1666, was written by state Sen. Debra Bowen, and would have barred investigators from making “false, fictitious or fraudulent” statements or representations to obtain private information about an individual, including telephone calling records, Social Security numbers and financial information. Victims would have had the right to sue for damages.
The bill won approval in three committees and sailed through the state Senate with a 30-0 vote. Then, according to Lenny Goldberg, a lobbyist for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the measure encountered unexpected, last-minute resistance from the Motion Picture Association of America.
“The MPAA has a tremendous amount of clout and they told legislators, ‘We need to pose as someone other than who we are to stop illegal downloading,'” Goldberg said.
Consequently, when the bill hit the assembly floor Aug. 23, it was voted down 33-27, just days before revelations about Hewlett-Packard’s use of pretexting to spy on journalists and board members put the practice in the national spotlight.
Legislature records confirm that the MPAA’s paid lobbyists worked on the measure. An aide to Bowen, who was forced out of the legislature by term limits and was elected Secretary of State, said the MPAA made its displeasure with the bill clear to lawmakers.
“The MPAA told some members the bill would interfere with piracy investigations,” the aide said. The association “doesn’t want to hamstring investigators.” …
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