MPAA Blocked Identity Theft Law, Because They Need To Be Able To Spy On People

from the how-nice-of-them dept

A few months back, of course, you’ll recall the big scandal over HP’s use of “pretexting” to spy on various people to figure out who leaked some information from the board of directors. Pretexting is a nice way of describing a basic form of social engineering identity theft. Basically, you call up a company pretending to be someone in order to get their information. It seems pretty clear it should be illegal, and while Patricia Dunn was eventually charged with crimes over the practice, there were plenty of questions as to whether or not California laws actually made pretexting illegal. This surprised many people, who then started trying to push through such laws, which haven’t really gone very far. In fact, there were similar laws that politicians had tried to put in place earlier that had failed as well.


A bunch of folks have submitted this morning that a Wired News investigation found out that the California law to make pretexting illegal had strong (nearly unanimous) support… until the MPAA killed it. Apparently, MPAA lobbyists explained to California politicians that they need to use this identity theft method to spy on file sharers. This isn’t an idle threat either. The entertainment industry has a long history of doing pretty questionable surveillance activity. They’ve stalked the CEO of Kazaa and folks who worked on the Pirate Bay. They also were caught doing a pretty thorough private investigation of one accused file sharer’s children, collecting all sorts of non-public information on them in order to scare the mother. And, now we know why it was legal for them to do so: they simply prevent any laws against it.


Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “MPAA Blocked Identity Theft Law, Because They Need To Be Able To Spy On People”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
21 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

wow, that’s scary. it’s nice to know your 4th (is it 4th) amendment rights are protected, unless someone has more money than you.

now, i’m not saying that the *aa should just leave pirace alone. but i am saying that there is a line (how welldefined, is yet to be determined) that should not be crossed. if cops do it, it’s entrapment. if a private company does it, it’s all fine and dandy peachy-keen. seriously.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

wow, that’s scary. it’s nice to know your 4th (is it 4th) amendment rights are protected, unless someone has more money than you.

The bill of rights went out the window a long time ago. Remember, the U.S. is now in a “state of war” that will probably never end and constitutional rights don’t apply in times of war.

Get it straight. says:

Re: Re:

Not agreeing with what the MPAA is doing and they shouldn’t have permission to do it. But it wouldn’t be entrapment if the police did this either. If the police do this without a warrant to conduct an investigation it would be considered unreasonable search and seizure. Entrapment is when you trick someone into committing a criminal act and then arrest them for it. There are very few times that you cannot claim entrapment and that is during narcotics operations where they attempt to make purchases. The logic behind this (which has been upheld in the supreme court) is that the individual who is providing the narcotics already has access to illegal narcotics with an intent to sell and therefor has already committed a crime. I know this is off topic but I always see people throwing legal terminology out there when they have no idea what they are talking about so I thought I would set the record straight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Payback?

Brilliant idea – someone should mobilize a team of activists to do some pretexting on the MPAA people. Just find out stuff about their family and whatnot, then send them a nice, anonymous note to let them know how easy it was to gather that information, largely due to their blocking of the law in California. Maybe even suggest to them what a less scrupulous person could do with that info.

Wouldn’t it be killer to expose an MPAA guy having an affair or something? Track down some phone bills, hotel bills, something like that and burn them at their own game.

Troops, take the hill!

Daemon says:

Re: Re: Payback?

Actually politicians would be a much better target – expose couple of shady deals (and I’m sure it is easy to find dirt on anyone, won’t even have to look hard – honest politician? yeah right) – and I’ll bet you anything the law will be pushed through in record time. Just make it very clear what was used to get this dirt.

Anonymous Coward says:

The people who work for the RIAA and MPAA are no different thatn any other slice of american culture. I’m quite sure that if you dig into their closets you’ll find all sorts of skeletons; from child porn and molestation to domestic abuse to repeat DWI offenders. Hell, if you dig hard enough, you might (read: probably will) even find a couple of actual skeletons of those who were dumb enough to try this very thing. Trust me when I tell you that for every skeleton you find in their closets, they’ll pay someone to find 10 in yours, even if they have to put them there themselves. Then, they’ll pay that same person a LOT of money to get rid of the skeletons from their own closets. Of course, these people have already paid off everyone they need to pay to get their 14 y/o teenager’s 5th DWI dropped/expunged/sealed so that no one will ever know. Meanwhile they’re berating you for being a bad parent because your kid downloaded a couple of songs and a movie or two.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


Yeah… pretty much. Aren’t there some ani-racketeering charges that can be thrown their way by now?

MPAA Exec: “Silly fool. We have already had the laws of racketeering rewritten so that we have full immunity from them.”

Chris Rock made a very good point in one of his specials a few years ago. When someone makes a fortune on something (even if its unhealthy, illegal, and/or immoral) they will go back and change the law to protect their fortunes and to ensure that no one can do the same thing (think tobacco industry).

And I know this is off topic but why is it that every object known to man that can be bought in a store has a list of ingredients execpt for cigarrettes?

Alex Hagen says:

Stupid stupid

You know, Mike has spent all this time recently listing reasons why the entertainment industry is wrong and mostly, in my opinion, failing to do so very well.

But then a news item like this, on the other hand, does more to make me lose sympathy for them than all of those arguments combined. I swear they are their own worst enemy.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...