As Wired so beautifully pointed out, a federal appeals court this week has reversed a Mississippi law banning Caller ID Spoofing. The decision comes almost one year after we initially won our case against the state, before the decision was ultimately appealed by the state.
In essence, the appeals court concluded that the Mississippi statute went too far. The legislative history of the Truth in Caller ID Act shows that Congress authorized legitimate spoofing, and noted its importance for domestic-violence victims or consumers providing temporary phone numbers to businesses, the court said.
With the appeals case now also ruled in our favor, a precedent has been set across the nation that Caller ID spoofing is simply 100% legal in the United States if it’s not done with “the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”. This is important for our users, who now have the courts backing them, and we hope it may also be an important ruling that can help us get back into the Google Play Store and the iPhone App Store after our apps were improperly labeled as “illegal”.
It’s been a long fight, but things are finally starting to pay off for us and our users.
Swatting needs to stop. That’s SpoofCards stance on this high-tech prank, plain and simple.
We’ve seen it on the news and we’ve read about it in the papers. Swatting is becoming a dangerous prank that has no place in the modern world. Anyone who commits swatting should be held completely accountable for their actions and their intentions. To anyone who has inadvertently become a victim of swatting, you have our deepest sympathy.
With all the news covering swatting recently, we felt now would be the time to open things up and give everyone, including the media, a detailed look at SpoofCard’s role in swatting. We think the facts will help clear our name and any misconceptions that may be out there regarding our role in swatting.
Unfortunately, it is true that Caller ID spoofing has been used in cases of swatting. However, as coverage of swatting increases, the media is quick to place the blame on SpoofCard. In reality, that is actually far from the truth. With a little research, they would find that there are many other spoofing services out there that could also be used. Out of the millions of legitimate and harmless calls that have been placed by SpoofCard users over the past 7 years, just one call has been used for a swatting prank. To date, SpoofCard has received around 15-20 subpoenas looking for information on these types of swatting cases, but only a single incident has actually been found to have occurred through our systems. That’s one too many for us, but this at least should show that it’s safe for us to say the majority of swatting pranks are not done through SpoofCard.
How are these SWAT team pranks done? There are typically two ways swatting calls are placed: by calling the secret, direct 10-digit phone number of 911 call centers or by using an online “TTY operator” chat and convincing the TTY operator to relay whatever message is given to them. This may sound strange to most people, but TTY operators are required to relay messages, as a service to the deaf (typically the only ones who would require TTY operators). This is not something SpoofCard can control or has anything to do with.
If SpoofCard were to shut down tomorrow, swatting would still live on. The fact is that SpoofCard simply offers a technology to consumers. The technology behind SpoofCard has been around for years and years. It’s the responsibility of the user of this technology to not commit outright illegal activities with it. In fact, in the one rare occasion that SpoofCard was used to commit a SWAT, authorities were relieved to find this, because it made tracking and prosecuting the end user easier! Remember, SpoofCard is not above the law and we have to cooperate with requests from law enforcement.
The folks who commit such heinous pranks flat out know what they are doing, and the legality associated with swatting pranks. Sadly, as we’ve grown to understand, because an act is wrong does not mean it will not be committed. Harsher consequences must be put into place to put a swift end to this nonsense.
If you are in the news media or law enforcement and you’re reading this, feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about swatting and what we at SpoofCard think can be done to eliminate it. We’re here to help and will do whatever it takes. This is a topic we’re passionate about curbing, because no one should have technology used against them like this.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably reading it on the new and improved SpoofCard.com! We’re very excited about the new site and some of the changes we’ve made. One of the most important changes is how we handle logging in to SpoofCard.com, and eventually, how you’ll be logging in to all of our new mobile apps.
If you signed up for a SpoofCard account before June 13th 2012, you would have received a unique 8 or 9 digit PIN number to log in to SpoofCard.com, one of our mobile apps, or our phone based IVR. Once you received your PIN number, you probably either forgot it or spent a half hour trying to memorize it. No one liked trying to memorize a random 9 digit number. Not even us. So we decided to come up with a simpler solution for future.
Going forward, we’ll be using your registered phone number and a 4-6 digit security PIN code of your choice to log in to SpoofCard. The Old 8 and 9 digit PIN numbers will continue to be supported for now, but we’ll be asking you to update to the new login method when you log in. Additionally, we’re also offering the ability to use Facebook Connect, so you can sign in to SpoofCard with a single click. We think that this will make our upcoming mobile apps easier than ever before.
(Please note that the Facebook login option is completely optional, it’s simply for convenience, and will never have the ability to post to your Facebook account.)
Great news today! We’ve prevailed in our lawsuit against the state of Mississippi, after a federal judge struck down the state’s recently enacted Anti-Caller ID Spoofing Act. Why is this a big deal? Because we’re now 2 for 2 in our lawsuits against states that have tried to create anti-Caller ID spoofing laws. You may remember that in 2009 we won our first lawsuit against the state of Florida.
Here’s our press release announcing today’s victory in this case:
Toms River, NJ — In an important case that confirms once again that there are constitutional limits on states attempts to regulate activities conducted over electronic networks, including the Internet, the U.S. District Court in Jackson, Mississippi ruled that Mississippi’s recently enacted Caller ID Anti-Spoofing Act was unconstitutional and issued a judgment in favor of TelTech Systems Inc, the parent company of SpoofCard.com. The Anti-Spoofing Act prohibited most callers, and Caller ID spoofing service providers such as SpoofCard, from using Caller ID spoofing to change the Caller ID number when making a call within Mississippi, or to any person in Mississippi.
The plaintiffs, who also included callers that use the Caller ID spoofing feature on their business and personal calls, claimed that the Mississippi law violated the U.S. constitution and the court agreed. The judge recognized that the proliferation of mobile phones, call forwarding, and other technological developments made it impossible for callers or service providers outside of Mississippi to ensure that they were not violating the Mississippi law except by not using Caller ID spoofing at all. Thus, the law had the practical effect of regulating commerce outside the state’s borders, in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. constitution.
This is not the first time SpoofCard has won its lawsuit against a state’s anti-Caller ID spoofing legislation. The Mississippi district court came to the same conclusion as a Miami federal district court, which in 2009 struck down a similar Florida law in TelTech Systems, Inc. v. McCollum, Case No. 08-61644-CIV-Martinez-Brown (S.D. Fla. July 16, 2009).
Moving forward, the Mississippi and Florida decisions have set important precedents for future challenges to potential anti-Caller ID spoofing laws in other states. Furthermore, the court’s reasoning is not strictly limited to anti-Caller ID spoofing laws, as it also applies broadly to a state’s attempts to regulate activities conducted over national or global electronic networks, such as the Internet.
For more information on the Mississippi District Court decision in TelTech Systems, Inc. v. Barbour, Civil No. 3:10CV679TSL-FKB (D.C.S.D. Miss), please contact TelTech’s attorney, Mark Del Bianco, at 301-933-7216.
About TelTech Systems Inc.
TelTech is a leader in the development of one-of-a-kind communication products. SpoofCard is the world’s largest Caller ID spoofing service. It offers its service in the United States and around the world. SpoofCard is available to anyone, is purchased as a prepaid service similar to a calling card, and works to and from any phone. SpoofCard customers range from individuals, to business professionals, to celebrities. TelTech is also creator of TrapCall, the world’s first solution to unmask blocked and restricted calls.
We’ve always embraced mobile apps and mobile app stores here at SpoofCard, but unfortunately the app stores haven’t welcomed us with open arms. Apple initially took over 6 months to review SpoofApp, only to reject us and let us know that we were never welcome in the App Store. After that experience, Google’s promise of an “open” platform, with the accompanying Android Market, was music to our ears. We released SpoofApp to the Android Market in the very early days of Android (December 2008) when there was only one phone (the G1) and there weren’t more than a few hundred apps. We ranted and raved about how much we absolutely loved Google for giving us an open platform, an open market, and an equal opportunity.
But that’s all changed.
Google recently decided to pull all Caller ID spoofing apps from the Android Market on the basis that “applications that are designed to spoof Caller ID are illegal, according to United States Federal law.” We covered The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 in detail, after it was signed in to law in December 2010, and it should be clear that Caller ID spoofing itself is NOT illegal because of the wording of the bill. We actually supported this bill because of its carefully crafted language! As long as you are using SpoofCard and SpoofApp in a lawful manner and not with the intent to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value”, you can continue to use SpoofCard and SpoofApp just as you were prior to this law being enacted.
We, of course, intend to have our lawyers point out the fact that Caller ID spoofing is not outlawed by the Truth In Caller ID Act to Google’s legal department but we’re not holding our breath that this will get us back in the Market.
The good news is that Android still allows users to download apps directly, without the need for the Android Market. So going forward, you can find SpoofApp hosted right here at http://SpoofCard.com/Android.
(Be sure to enable “installation of non-Market applications” under Settings > Applications > Unknown Sources on your Android phone)
Below is a screenshot of the email response we got from the Android Market Team when we contacted them to see SpoofApp was constantly being removed.
Congress Wants To Criminalize Legitimate Uses Of Caller ID Spoofing! Please Call Your Senator Today!
SpoofCard and the rest of the industry opposes H.R. 1258 because this bill prohibits all spoofing done with the “intent to deceive.” The problem is that anyone using caller ID spoofing is arguably doing so with the intent to deceive, even if their deception is either harmless or actually beneficial to society. The bill would essentially ban the use of caller ID “spoofing.” Earlier versions of the bill included language that would only ban the use of spoofing to cause “harm or obtain anything of value.” This “harm” language has been dropped from the bill.
The Senate earlier passed its version of the bill, S-30, which includes fairer, more specific terms. The Senate version of the bill (S.30) included language that would only ban the use of spoofing to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” The issue is now back before the Senate, which has to decide whether to accept the House language or insist on the requirement that there be some intent to cause a “harm” before caller ID spoofing is illegal.
Please contact your Senator’s office and ask to speak with the Legislative Aide handling the Caller ID legislation. Urge them to support the Senate language in S-30 so that caller ID will only be illegal when it is used “to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”
Here’s a script to get you started and some great points to include:
” I urge Senator _______ to oppose H.R. 1258, the House version of the Caller ID Spoofing legislation and to support the language of S-30, the Senate version.
The House version uses very vague language that prohibits Caller ID spoofing with the “Intent to deceive”, which would refer to nearly all types of Caller ID spoofing, even for harmless or professional use. I therefore support the Senate version of the bill (S-30) because it would only prevent people from using the technology to commit fraud or cause harm.”
“This technology affords me a much better level of personal security when calling people I don’t know.”
“This technology allows me to conduct mystery shopping and other legitimate business activity, thus improving call center and customer service organizational responses
“As a private investigator, I use this technology in looking for purposes that benefit society, such as locating criminals who have jumped bail and deadbeat fathers who fail to pay child support.”
“As a lawyer, I use the technology to contact whistleblowers and witnesses whose identity needs to be protected.”
“I use the technology as a telecommuter and or a distributed call center worker because I do not want my home number to appear in the caller ID readout.”
“I am a [doctor, reporter, other professional] who must use my home phone or personal cell phone for business-related calls but do not want the people I call to view my personal number.”
Specific Language of the Two Bills
The bill in question, H.R. 1258, uses language that would essentially ban the use of Caller ID “spoofing”, even when done in a harmless manner or in a way that is beneficial to society. The bill states:
“CALLER ID INFORMATION.–
”(1) IN GENERAL.—It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any real time voice communications service, regardless of the technology or network utilized, to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud or deceive.”
The Senate version of the same bill, S-30, includes fairer, more specific terms. The Senate version of the bill (S.30) included language that would only ban the use of spoofing to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”
PROHIBITION ON PROVISION OF INACCURATE CALLER IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION.—
”(1) IN GENERAL.—It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service, to cause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”.
Get ready for an April Fools’ Day that will go down in history! Today we’ve launched our most frequently requested feature over the years – text message spoofing. We worked extra hard to put this together for you in time for April Fools’ tomorrow and we’re the ONLY company in the world that you will find capable of doing true text message spoofing to US phone numbers.
Sending a spoofed text message costs just 5 SpoofCard credits per message! If you don’t have a SpoofCard account, you can try out SMS spoofing for free before purchasing SpoofCard credits with 1 free text message per user at http://www.spoofcard.com/sms. If you’re an existing SpoofCard customer, just log in to your account and visit the “Send SMS” tab in the Control Panel to begin sending messages.
We’ll shut up now and let you go check out the SMS spoofing for yourself, because seeing is believing! Happy April Fools’ Day from your friends at SpoofCard.
Please be sure to review our Terms of Service for the acceptable use policy before using the SMS spoofing service.
Update: As of November 2012 we’ve had to disable the SMS spoofing feature as it stopped working in the United States. If we’re able to once again get this feature to work, we’ll re-enable it once again. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Back in April SpoofCard contacted you, our customers, to warn you of a bill that was pending in Congress, H.R. 1258, which would have essentially banned the use of Caller ID “Spoofing”. We also informed you that there was another version in the Senate, S.30: The Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009, which included fairer, more specific terms. The Senate version of the bill (S.30) included language that would only ban the use of spoofing to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”
We urged you in April to contact your Senators and let them know that you would support the Senate version, which would only make it illegal to spoof Caller ID with the intent to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”
We are writing today to inform you that thanks to your efforts the Senate version of this bill, S.30 was signed into law by President Obama on December 22nd, 2010.
What does this mean for you?
This means SpoofCard will continue to operate doing business as usual — Caller ID Spoofing is NOT illegal. However, if you use our service in violation of the law with the intent to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value”, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. We have never condoned such activity, in fact since day one our Terms of service has included the following paragraph:
2. Acceptable Conduct You agree to use the SpoofCard.com services only for purposes that are lawful in the jurisdictions where you are calling from and calling to. You shall not transmit any unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, sexually explicit, profane, hateful, racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable material of any kind, including but not limited to any material that encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, or otherwise violate any applicable local, state, national, or international law.
As long as you are using our service in a lawful manner and not with the intent to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value”, you can continue to use SpoofCard just as you have prior to this law being enacted.
We wish to thank all of you for your continued support and helping keep SpoofCard, and Caller ID Spoofing in general, legal!
If you were listening to Rush Limbaugh today, and you’re now reading this blog, chances are you may have heard him talking about SpoofCard. If you weren’t turned in, you can hear what Rush had to say below!
SpoofCard’s new iPhone and iPod Touch app titled Prank Calls is now available, for FREE, in the iTunes App Store! Our new Prank Calls app brings you hours of hilarious prank call recordings shared by real SpoofCard users through our SpoofCard Facebook App. We found the funniest user-generated prank call recordings and put them together for you’re prank call enjoyment! You won’t believe some of the pranks these users pulled off!
You can download the SpoofCard Prank Calls mobile app, completely free, by searching the iTunes App Store for “SpoofCard” or by clicking here.