September 07, 2004

After Threats, Caller ID Spoofing Entrepreneur Selling Business

Three days, that's all it took. The Net has been rife with criticism over this new startup endeavor, which I posted late last week. From the NY Times (free registration required):

"It may be known as caller ID spoofing, but it is evidently no laughing matter.

Three days after the start-up company Star38 began offering a service that fools caller ID systems, the founder, Jason Jepson, has decided to sell the business. Mr. Jepson said he had received harassing e-mail and phone messages and even a death threat taped to his front door - all he said from people opposed to his publicizing a commercial version of technology that until now has been mainly used by software programmers and the computer hackers' underground."

Here's the real irony: According to the article, Mr. Jepson's own privacy was severely compromised:
"While network security consultants and some other technology professionals are known to have a cottage industry involving the use of caller ID spoofing, Mr. Jepson said the nature of the threats he had received made him conclude they had come from so-called phishers - people who use caller ID spoofing and online techniques to trick people into handing over confidential information.

The people who threatened him, he said, had already tapped his phone calls and had obtained details about how much money he last deposited into his checking account. 'Some people,' he said, 'are pretty fired up about this.' "

Yet another example of asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, "Can we?" perhaps he should have asked, "Should we?" While I think many of us would probably not condone the more extreme actions taken against him, it sounds like he got a little taste of what it feels like to be harassed by unknown callers. For some strange reason, I just don't think he's going to get much sympathy.

The problem, however, remains. The genie is still out of the bottle, and his business is now up for sale. I feel it's one thing if a caller chooses to block their caller ID. The recipient still has the choice whether or not to pick up the call, knowing that it may be unwanted (after all, what did we do before Caller ID?). However, intentionally forging a caller's identity plunges Caller ID into a level of uncertainty and deceptiveness that crosses the line in my book.

Topic(s):   Electronic Discovery  |  Privacy & Security
Posted by Jeff Beard