Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Disgust Has No Bounds

Just how fucking screwed is this?

Anyone can buy a list of your incoming and outgoing phone calls, cell or land-line, for $110 online (via John Aravosis @ AMERICAblog)

And the best part? Congress and the Executive branch have known about this problem for half a year or more and no one did a damn thing to fix it.

In a nutshell, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a story two days ago about a Web site that sells phone records, for cells and land-lines, for $110 a pop. The company boasts on its own Web site:

Give us the cell phone number and we will send you the calls made from the cell phone number.

So I went to their site, plopped down $110, and within a day I had a list of every single phone number that called my cell, or that I called from my cell, for the month of November. I even had the dates the calls were made, and for a premium I could find out how long the calls were.

I called Cingular and they were shocked by what I told them - yeah right.

Aravosis asks eleven questions explaining his concerns, which I share about this "service". It is well worth clicking through and reading his entire post that concludes with:
What's most infuriating to me is that our government, both Congress and the executive branch, has known about this since at least last July when the Washington Post story ran, and they didn't do a damn thing about it. Congress could have easily passed legislation to make this illegal. But they didn't. Hell, Bush could have evoked his apparently all-powerful divine right of kings and simply outlaw the damn practice - a much better use of his dictator police-state powers than spying on innocent Americans.

But Bush did nothing. Republicans and Democrats in Congress did nothing. And the FBI and the privacy groups have known about this for a long time, and they did nothing.

This is the kind of issue that you could get fixed on Capitol Hill IN ONE DAY. But that would require someone who actually understands politics, who understands how to get things accomplished, and who gives a damn. It also takes someone who isn't in the pocket of the telecommunications industry, the telemarketers, and the direct marketing lobbyists.

And finally, let's not forget the biggest criminals of all in this affair. The phone companies. There is no way that these online services are outright stealing this information, if they're able to get in just a few hours consistently. They've got access to the info, and from the reading I've done it seems the cell and land-line companies are selling our info for profit. So, the biggest slap in the face should be to any phone company out there who has ever sold one big of information about you to anyone else. Not only is it unethical, but they just might have helped Al Qaeda. Congrats.

So, anybody got Bill Frist's or Harry Reid's phone numbers? Or maybe the phone number of the FBI tip line?


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