IAPP-GDPR Web Banners-300x250-FINAL

Ann E. Donlan, CIPP

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) promises to continue its aggressive enforcement of deceptive and unlawful efforts to obtain consumers' private telephone records, according to an agency official.

"The FTC has been concerned with the issue of pretexting since before the passage of GLBA (Gramm Leach Bliley Act)," said Angela Ball, an attorney with the FTC's Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, Bureau of Consumer Protection. "We will continue our enforcement efforts aggressively."

Ball was one of three experts the IAPP tapped for a recent audio conference, "Pretexting: New Laws, New Challenges, New Expectations." Joining Ball were Agnes Bundy Scanlan, CIPP, Counsel, Goodwin Procter LLP and Matthew Leonard, CIPP, Senior Fellow, The Ponemon Institute.

The audio conference is available for purchase at a price of $159 for members and $179 for non-members. More information is available at iapp.org.

The experts were commenting on the impact of the new pretexting law, the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006, which President Bush signed in to law on Jan. 12, 2007.

The new law, according to Bundy Scanlan, mandates a maximum 10-year prison term for anyone convicted of using fraudulent tactics to obtain telephone records. Bundy Scanlan said the pretexting scandal related to HP's efforts to pinpoint the source of boardroom leaks "proved that the law needed to be more specific in terms of obtaining non-public personal information" about individuals and the penalties that pretexters should face for their actions. She added that there are enhanced penalties for aggravated cases that involve more than $100,000 or more than 50 customers, and when the information is used to further certain other criminal offenses.

Bundy Scanlan noted that GLBA, since it was signed into law in 1999, "is a huge step in terms of protecting consumer privacy by way of financial statements." She added that GLBA "served its purpose," but Congress determined that there was a need to update the law around the practice of pretexting.
Bundy Scanlan's comments also detailed the elements organizations should include on an "investigative checklist" that should be drafted and in place before a pretexting incident arises.

Ball added that while GLBA's Section 521 (a) "had some specific anti-pretexting provisions," the FTC also used its unfair or deceptive practices section of federal law to pursue pretexting cases on behalf of consumers.

In its experience, FTC investigators found that "Web operators and loosely organized data brokers" were providing disclosures that purported to be mindful of GLBA.

"We found that a lot of them misconstrue the exceptions under GLBA," Ball said, adding: "If there is no good assurance that the information is being obtained through lawful means, then it is likely that it is not being obtained through lawful means."

Ball noted that a pretexting bill currently pending in Congress, the Prevention of Fraudulent Access to Phone Records Act, would allow the FTC to impose civil fines on those who use deceptive methods to obtain consumers' telephone records. 

She detailed the agency's most recent pretexting enforcement efforts, including five cases in federal district courts the agency filed in May 2006 against sellers of telephone records. Of those, two cases have settled and three are pending. In February, the FTC filed a case in federal court in Florida against a group of defendants who allegedly engaged in telephone records pretexting.

"We are moving forward with our enforcement efforts and we are looking to see those folks brought to justice," she said.

Leonard, of The Ponemon Institute, wrapped up the discussion, with a focus on the important role Chief Privacy Officers play in promoting a business culture that values honesty. Leonard also emphasized the need for CPOs to identify departments or groups within the organization that are collecting data - outside of the typical marketing or human resources areas - places within the enterprise "where we get blind-sided" by privacy blunders.

Leonard stressed that in many businesses, "there is sort of a culture of deception to win in business." For example, "creative impersonation" to get in to see a client "becomes part of the mythology in the sales force." He urged CPOs to "help people make ethical decisions" to thwart the "culture of deception. … At the end of the day, we're asking our employees to be honest."

Corporate policies and procedures are critical, said Leonard, who added that "privacy guidance needs to be appropriate to the group."

By identifying potential areas where problems could arise, privacy pros "can help the business do better, not just avoid trouble. It should be our job to think those things through. It's an opportunity for us to do something right in our organization."

This audio conference is now available for purchase. Order now at iapp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8&Itemid=70.


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Advertise in IAPP Publications

Find out how to get your message in front the people you want to reach. Download a media kit now.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Registration Open

New! Intensive two-day GDPR training led by the sharpest minds in the field. It's a can't-miss event.

The Congress Is Cancelled

The IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress 2015 is cancelled. Click through to learn more.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»