Companies can now spy freely

DailyTech previously reported on an HP investigation that involved HP executives using false or misleading statements in order to obtain personal information from employees. The practice is called pretexting and was considered ethically questionable, almost illegal. Victims of pretexting are able to file lawsuits if they choose to but that may no longer be the case thanks to a California pretexting bill that was shot down.

Bill SB1666 was considered to prohibit companies from using pretexting practices in order to spy on or obtain information from employees. In fact, the State Senate voted in favor of bill SB1666 30 to 0 until the MPAA showed up. Lobbying its stance against bill SB1666, the MPAA claimed that bill SB1666 would impede on efforts to find pirates and illegal downloader's.

After lobbying its thoughts, the vote on bill SB1666 dramatically changed with votes turning down the bill by a count of 33-27. The MPAA and the RIAA are known to have their investigators use pretexting in order to discover those that break copyright laws. In fact, it is reported that the MPAA hired a computer hacker to break into TorrentSpy's email servers for roughly $15,000.

California did pass a bill but ended up passing one that only covers obtaining telephone records and prohibits companies from using questionable tactics to obtain them. Concerns are being raised now for the outcome of those who were victims in the HP debacle, unfortunately. Analysts predict that the results of bill SB1666 now leave the door wide open for many other companies to consider pretexting as a valid form of gathering information from employees.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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