FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Caller ID Spoofing: The Newest Consumer Threat?

Caller ID "modification" is new attempt to thwart Caller ID services. Online firms such as Telespoof claim to allow their customers to choose any number as their Caller ID. Their website claims that "Private Investigators, Skip Tracers, Law Enforcement, Collection Agencies and Lawyers" would be among those interested in their services. The services supposedly work with landlines, mobile phones and VoIP.

Though Caller ID spoofing is legal in the US and UK, concern is growing that spoofing services will be abused by everyone from pranskters to con artists to predators. To that end, Caller ID spoofing has attracted the attention of consumer groups, and some spoofing services have restricted their clientele to law enforcement and private investigation services.

Those who follow privacy issues could have predicted the advent of Caller ID spoofing, as every instance of electronic tracking will be met with an equal and opposite hack to disable it. Though it may protect the privacy of some, Caller ID spoofing also has the negative effect of making the entire Caller ID system less trustworthy. Will phone carriers respond by hardening their services? Will politicians get involved (answer: yes, as soon as a case of spoofing abuse makes the news)? And -- need we ask -- when will the lawsuits begin?

Sources: BBC, Lockergnome