ASSEMBLY, No. 703

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  RUBEN J. RAMOS, JR.

District 33 (Hudson)

Assemblyman  RALPH R. CAPUTO

District 28 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Enacts “Truth in Caller Identification Act”; prohibits manipulation of certain telephone caller identification information.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act prohibiting the manipulation of certain telephone caller identification information and supplementing P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.)

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act may be known and cited as the “Truth in Caller Identification Act.”

 

     2.    As used in this act:

     “Caller identification information” or “caller ID information” means information provided by a caller identification service regarding the telephone number of, or other information regarding the origination of, a call made using a telecommunications service.

     “Caller identification service” or “caller ID service” means any service or device designed to provide the user of the service or device with the telephone number of, or other information regarding the origination of, a call made using a telecommunications service. Such term includes automatic number identification services.

     "Telecommunications service" means the offering of voice communications for a fee directly to the public, or to such classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the public, regardless of the facilities used.

 

     3.    Consistent with federal law, it shall be unlawful for any person, in connection with any telecommunications service used within this State, to knowingly cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value, except for the following:

     a.     Any authorized activity of a law enforcement agency; or

     b.    A court order that specifically authorizes the use of caller ID manipulation.

 

     4.    Nothing in this act shall be construed to:

     a.     Prevent or restrict any person from blocking the capability of any caller ID service to transmit caller ID information; or

     b.    Authorize or prohibit any investigative, protective, or intelligence activities performed in connection with official duties and in accordance with all applicable laws, by a law enforcement agency of the United States, a state, or a political subdivision of a state, or by any intelligence agency of the United States.

 

     5.    A violation of this act shall be an unlawful practice subject to the penalties applicable pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1966, c.39 (C.56:8-13) and section 2 of P.L.1999, c.129 (C.56:8-14.3).


     6.    This act shall take effect on the 60th day after the date of enactment, but the Division of Consumer Affairs may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, entitled the “Truth in Caller Identification Act,” supplements the consumer fraud act, P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.), to make it an unlawful practice for any person, in connection with any telecommunications service used within this State, to knowingly cause any telephone caller identification (“caller ID”) service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value, except for the following: 1) any authorized activity of a law enforcement agency; or 2) a court order that specifically authorizes the use of caller ID manipulation.

     The bill does not specifically: 1) prevent or restrict any person from blocking the capability of any caller ID service to transmit caller ID information; or 2) authorize or prohibit any investigative, protective, or intelligence activities performed in connection with official duties and in accordance with all applicable laws, by a law enforcement agency of the United States, a state, or a political subdivision of a state, or by any intelligence agency of the United States.

     An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense.  In addition, violations can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

     Most companies that offer basic telephone service also offer a caller ID service that can provide their customers with the telephone number or name of the calling party.  Some callers, however, are employing technology to alter the name or number that appears on the recipient's caller ID display.  This practice is known as “ID spoofing.”  ID spoofing can make a call appear to come from any phone number the caller wishes.  In a report to the United States Senate on ID spoofing, it stated that the practice has been used to access personal information of those receiving telephone calls and to deceive law enforcement into responding to what they believed was a legitimate distress call.

     According to the U.S. Senate report, in the past, it had been possible to “spoof” or manipulate caller ID information over traditional phone calls; however, such spoofing required special phone connections and expensive equipment.  With advances in technology and the widespread availability of Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) and Internet Protocol-enabled (“IP-enabled”) services, however, it has become easier for callers to transmit any caller ID information the calling party chooses.  VoIP and IP-enabled services can give the calling party far more control over the content and transmission of caller ID than traditional analog phone service.  Moreover, there are a number of online sites that offer spoofing services, eliminating the need for any specialized hardware.  Many of these caller ID spoofing services promote themselves for use in “prank calls” or “for entertainment purposes only.”  However, these services can be accessed easily by criminals, identity thieves, or others who wish to harm or deceive someone.

     The report further stated that, although there are many more examples of harmful uses of ID spoofing, it is important to recognize that there are some more benign uses of this technology. For instance, the National Network to End Domestic Violence has explained that many phones are set to refuse blocked or private calls.  It therefore becomes important for domestic violence shelters to transmit caller ID information so a call is completed, but it may be necessary to alter the caller ID information to ensure the safety of domestic violence victims.  In addition, some VoIP and IP-enabled service providers suggest that there are innovative services that legitimately involve changes in caller ID information, such as providing consumers with the ability to provide a temporary callback number that is different from their assigned caller ID.  As a result, efforts to curtail ID spoofing should focus on actions by persons with intent to deceive or cause harm.