H.R. 1110: PHONE Act of 2009

H.R. 1110

PHONE Act of 2009

Date
March 17, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 1110 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) on February 23, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1110 makes it a federal crime to provide false caller identification information with the intent to defraud or to provide the caller identification information of an individual without that individual's consent in an attempt to deceive the recipient of a call about the identity of the caller.

The bill also establishes penalties for committing this crime of up to five years in prison, fines (unspecified), or a combination of both. Additionally, this legislation authorizes the seizure of any property obtained from the proceeds of committing the crime as well as any equipment that was used to commit the crime.

H.R. 1110 does not prohibit lawfully authorized investigative, protective, or intelligence activities of a law enforcement agency, a State, a municipality, or of any U.S. intelligence agency.

 

Background

On March 21, 2007, the House passed a very similar bill (H.R. 740) by a vote of 413-1. The Senate never considered that legislation.

Caller identification services are offered by most telecommunications and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) providers and supply consumers with the name and phone number of incoming calls.

Falsely manipulating the information that appears on caller ID is referred to as "spoofing." In recent years a number of websites have started offering a "caller ID spoofing service" where a customer can purchase a phone card that allows them to change the phone number that appears on caller ID when they place calls on traditional telephone networks. VOIP users can "spoof" call recipients with standard VOIP software which allows users to change the information that appears on the call recipient's caller ID.

In some instances, "spoofing" has been used to facilitate crimes, such as identity theft, fraud, and harassment. Identity thieves have used "spoofing" to mislead call recipients into revealing personal financial information, to fraudulently authorize stolen credit cards, and to arrange fraudulent money transfers.

 

Cost

There is no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate available yet for H.R. 1110.  However, a similar bill (H.R. 740) which passed the House in the 110th Congress by a vote of 413-1 was estimated to have "no significant cost to the federal government."