In the Complete guide to caller ID spoofing: Safeguarding your resources, I talked about the dangers of caller ID spoofing when wielded by malcontents. I also talked about The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2007 – a bill written to prohibit fraud and harassment via caller ID spoofing, while still permitting legitimate, responsible companies to use caller ID spoofing so long as they were acting within the confines of the law. A bill, by the way, which never became a law.
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010 is more pointed, but still leaves too much room for interpretation. A bill, by the way, which has not yet been written into law.
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any real time voice communications service, regardless of the technology or network utilized, to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud or deceive.
Interpreting the law is why we need lawyers. Interpreting this bill (should it be passed into law) could put responsible companies on the defense, forcing them to spend time and resources justifying the legitimate and productive use of the technology.
Caller ID spoofing was originally created to help businesses. It has been around as long as caller ID. It was first used by businesses with PRI (Primary Rate Interface) telephone lines. Essentially, a business with one PRI line could support up to 23 unique phone numbers and make each of those appear to have originated from a single phone number, typically the company’s main number.
Tony Bradley pointed out in his blog Caller ID spoofing ban is bad for business:
Businesses have a vested interest in displaying the primary number for the business for all inbound and outbound calls regardless of whether those calls were placed from a desktop phone, a personal smartphone, or a software-based VoIP client or the PC.
Google Voice is similar. The very concept of Google Voice is to provide a single contact point — one phone number that can be shared with everyone, and that won’t change even if you move, switch jobs, or change wireless service providers.
Could Skype and its SkypeOut’s feature (that enables Skype users to assign a caller-ID number) soon be on the defense?
The dangers of caller ID spoofing are real and there should be laws in place to punish those who clearly abuse the technology (like the examples noted in my caller ID spoofing article), but could this bill impede technological innovation? Are we fringing on the Net Neutrality/Internet Freedom Preservation Act argument?