Wednesday, July 13, 2005

~ internet information brokers could get attorneys into hot water ~

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission seeking an investigation into the web-based businesses that sell telephone toll records. There is no explicit policy or statute violated when parties sell or obtain telephone call logs without a subpoena. In fact, the U. S. Court Of Appeals, 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the defendants in a case in which an information broker (Action Research Group, Mike Lee), hired by a private investigator, impersonated a telephone company subscriber (Clemons) and obtained that subscriber's toll numbers via fax.[2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 23547,*;82 Fed. Appx. 436ROGER CLEMONS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. RANDALL WALLER, A ACTION AUTOLINER d/b/a ACTION RESEARCH GROUP, KARL HALL, and MERIDIAN RESOURCES & INVESTIGATIONS, Defendants-Appellees. No. 02-5342] Read at LexisOne (free registration required)

In one of many news stories, EPIC suggests that they have their eyes on attorneys who may be buying this information on the Internet, not just the brokers.

Hoofnagle said EPIC also plans to file complaints with state attorneys general, state regulators of private investigators and attorney bar association ethical committees, because it believes law firms are among the most frequent clients of the online investigation firms.
I've cautioned clients [Law Technology News, July 2005, Cut to the Chase: A primer for using public records databases] (free registration) about purchasing any data obtained by a click of the mouse, not just in order to avoid grey areas of the law, but because you'll waste money on information that is usually stale or inaccurate. And don't even think it meets any standard of due diligence.

Email me for a pdf of the article.


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