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Thursday, January 12, 2006

BEWARE: You cell phone records are for sale

You think I'm kidding, look at what AMERICABlog was able to do to General Wesley Clark and it all done legally!

I reported the other day that your cell phone records are on sale online for anyone to buy, without your permission. Well, this morning AMERICAblog bought former presidential candidate, and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (SACEUR), General Wesley Clark's cell phone records for one hundred calls made over three days in November 2005, no questions asked. (Clark's cell phone provider is Omnipoint Communications, which seems to be related to T-Mobile.)

All we needed was General Clark's cell phone number and our credit card, and 24 hours later we had one hundred calls the general made on his cell phone in November. The calls included a number of calls to Arkansas, to foreign countries, and at least one call to a prominent reporter at the Washington Post. To ensure that we actually had General Clark's correct cell phone number, we called the number this morning and the voice mail recording that answered said:

"Hi, this is Wes Clark, leave a message [unintelligible]."

We have subsequently called that number and spoken to a real person to confirm its authenticity, and to make sure General Clark was aware of this issue and what we were doing.

This is clearly outrageous. But let me first say, as an aside, that I bought my own Cingular Wireless phone records this past weekend and reported on it on AMERICAblog. I wouldn't do this to any other public person without first doing it to myself. But even after reporting on this gross violation of my (and your) personal privacy, Congress, the Administration, and the phone companies have yet to act effectively. (And they have known about it since at least this past July when the Washington Post reported on it.) So we decided to attempt to buy the records of a celebrity, so to speak. And we unfortunately succeeded.

You still don't believe that you records can be bought, go to these sites and try and buy your own cell phone record. You'll be shocked at how easy it is to obtain someones records.

Here's are two places where John at AMEIRCABlog used to get General Clark's phone records.

1. Locate Cell (110.00 per record)
2. CellTolls (89.95 per record)

This is clearly outrageous. I know of many political figures who wouldn't want someone obtaining their phone records. Wanna dig up some dirt on a candidate? What better way to do it than grabbing their phone records?

The worse part is that Congress has known about this for at least the last six months and have done nothing. Talk about Congress looking out for your best interest.

The only question now remaining is why President Bush, our leaders in Congress, and our wireless phone companies (at the very least T-Mobile and Cingular, whose customers' records are available online to anyone) have known about this problem for at least six months but have yet to fix it.

PS CBS News is going to report on the cell records privacy scandal tonight (1/12/06) on their evening news broadcast.