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Telecom giant sues data brokers to prevent fraudulent account access

[JURIST] Telecom giant AT&T [corporate website] sued 25 "John Doe" defendants [press release] in US federal court on Wednesday, alleging that the defendants had posed as customers to obtain personal customer information for use in domestic and legal disputes. The AT&T complaint alleges that the so-called "data brokers" fraudulently obtained data on about 2,500 customers, and if the lawsuit leads to the identities of the data brokers, AT&T will seek an injunction to block future data brokering, as well as the return of profits made on the defendants' activities. The suit alleges a cause of action under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [text] and other statutes protecting harmful computer access. CNET has more.

In June, AP reported that several prominent government bodies, in attempts to circumvent the normal warrant or subpoena process usually required by the Fourth Amendment [text and materials], have hired data brokers to obtain customer phone records [JURIST report]. The reports prompted Congressional panel hearings [JURIST report] on the issue, where a self-described data broker detailed [PDF] the technique of "pretexting," or tricking companies into divulging their customers' records. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved the Prevention of Fraudulent Access to Phone Records Act [HR 4943 summary; press release], a bill that would outlaw pretexting, which now awaits a full House vote.

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