Court to hear appeal of ‘anti-spoofing’ law

JACKSON — A challenge to Mississippi’s “anti-spoofing” law will be heard Oct. 4 by a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

Mississippi enacted the law 2010. Other states and Congress have since enacted similar laws.

Backers of the laws say caller ID “spoofing” is a growing threat to people because of new technology making it cheap and easy to change the name and number that phone call recipients see on caller ID.

A spoofing service provider, TelTech Systems, challenged the Mississippi law as unconstitutional in 2010. A federal judge in Mississippi sided with the company a year later, and the case is now pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

TelTech is a New Jersey corporation that offers the SpoofCard — a service that lets callers assign a fake Caller ID when calling.

In 2009, a Florida federal court ruled a similar anti-spoofing law was unconstitutional. That ruling grew out of another lawsuit brought by TelTech. The Florida court said that the only way for consumers to ensure they were complying with the law was to not use SpoofCards at all, meaning that the law regulated commerce outside of Florida in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

That decision was cited by U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee in Jackson in his ruling.

Lee said the proliferation of mobile phones, call forwarding, and other technological developments has made it “impossible for a user or provider of caller ID spoofing service to know whether the recipient of their caller ID spoofing is in Mississippi.”

Lawyers for Mississippi contend nothing in the federal law prevents the states from passing stricter spoofing laws. They said Mississippi’s law could mean spoofers must be more careful, but it doesn’t violate the commerce clause.

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