Leahy Wonders if DOJ is Taking Phone Breaches Seriously

By Nitya

Nov 25, 2008 9:11am

Verizon has reportedly fired the workers who were snooping around the records of an old flip cell phone once used by President-elect Barack Obama, but the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, has some questions for the Justice Department about the matter.

In a letter to Matthew Friedrich, the Acting Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division, Leahy says, "sadly, data privacy breaches involving the sensitive phone records of ordinary Americans are occurring with greater frequency. Cell phone records provide a wealth of sensitive personal data that can be of great use to criminals, and the unauthorized disclosure of these records can further acts of domestic violence and compromise the safety of law enforcement officers and their families."

Leahy reminds the DOJ that in 2007, Congress enacted the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act which, among other things "amended the federal criminal code to expressly prohibit a telecommunications carrier from obtaining confidential phone records by accessing customer accounts through the Internet, or by fraudulent computer-related activities, without prior authorization."

Pointedly, Leahy asks DOJ to "please provide information regarding the number of prosecutions and/or investigations that the Department has undertaken to date pursuant to the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act. Please also state whether the Department has found this statute effective in protecting Americans’ privacy."

– jpt

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