15 Dic Rod Blagojevich: champion of cell phone security
Ars Technica, By Matthew Lasar, December 14, 2008
Say what you want about the embattled Governor of Illinois, the guy’s been on the right side when it comes to mobile phone privacy. In 2006 Rod Blagojevich very publicly joined the campaign to protect consumers from “pretexting”—illegally hacking or fooling companies into disclosing customer cell phone records, then selling it over Web sites. His September 2006 letter to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission expressed concern that even when an old cell phone’s memory is erased, it can be restored using software easily downloaded from the Internet. “More alarming are the examples of the types of information that are all too easily available: information containing a company’s plan to win a multimillion-dollar federal contract, an individual’s personal medical history, and emails about a firm’s software license,” Blagojevich wrote. Multimillion-dollar federal contract, eh? Just what your typical cell phone user keeps on their call log—maybe next to alleged plans to sell off a vacant United States Senate seat? Ok. I’ll admit it. This is total blogotunism. Every time somebody controversial in government or politics hits the news, I run over to the FCC’s trusty filing database and plug in the name. It doesn’t always work. The agency drew a blank for Sarah Palin and Bill Ayers. But Rodzilla delivered the goods. “I urge both of your agencies to require cell phone companies to develop more effective methods to completely delete a customer’s information,” Blagojevich’s FCC letter concluded. ASAP, no doubt. As Ars readers know, the gov’s been having some trouble with security leaks himself recently. At the beginning of this year the Federal Bureau of Investigation got court permission to bug the bejesus out of the fellow, including the “interception of oral communications” at his campaign headquarters and wiretapping his home. These revealed conversations alleging that, in addition to the Senate seat sell off, Blagojevich wanted a hefty campaign contribution in exchange for making eight million dollars available to Children’s Memorial Hospital. The feds also charge that G-Rod told the Chicago Tribune that if the company wanted state financial help with its Wrigley Field stadium, several disliked editorial writers would have to go. It does not appear, however, that Rod asked anyone for anything in exchange for speaking out about cell phone security. This was just one of those issues that he had a feel for, perhaps. And to give credit where due, Blagojevich has been a big booster of anti-pretexting legislation in Illinois, signing a bill in 2006 banning the practice there. He also approved a law requiring companies to tell Illinois consumers if their personal data has been stolen, and another permitting identity theft victims to freeze their credit reports. “It’s frightening to know that the private information of cell phone users all across Illinois is up on the auction block at dozens of unregulated websites,” Blagojevich declared. And we certainly wouldn’t want any unethical auctioning going on in the Prairie State, now would we. Anyway, Congress followed suit with the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act, which makes pretexting unlawful nationally. The FCC subsequently created rules requiring cell phone companies to beef up their password security, among other measures, to thwart further foul play.