MPAA, RIAA lobby for pretexting rights

— 11:53 AM on April 9, 2007

Following the HP pretexting scandal last year, the California Senate is considering a bill that would outlaw pretexting—the practice of using social engineering and subterfuge to persuade someone to divulge confidential information. But the record and movie industries aren't too happy about the proposed bill, as they claim it would undermine their anti-piracy efforts. According to a report by the LA Times, the MPAA and RIAA allege that they "sometimes need to use subterfuge as they pursue bootleggers in flea markets and on the Internet."

The RIAA insists that it's not talking about obtaining customer information—something it claims to have never attempted. However, the LA Times says the RIAA asked that "any owner of a copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret be able to use 'pretexting or other investigative techniques to obtain personal information about a customer or employee' when seeking to enforce intellectual property rights." Considering the RIAA already bypasses subpoenas by asking universities to give up the names of students directly, the proposed changes to the bill might even allow the association to obtain information about alleged pirates without consent from their Internet service providers.

That said, the LA Times notes that the bill's author, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, "is unlikely to accept what's known in legislative parlance as a 'hostile amendment'." A consumer protection advocate who's against the amendment is also likely to receive backing from two of the other four attorneys on the committee, the paper adds. (Thanks to The Inquirer for the tip.)

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