Gov. Blagojevich urges FCC and FTC
to require cell phone companies to develop effective ways of
deleting sensitive information
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writes letter in response to alarming cases where sensitive personal
and corporate information was easily retrieved from discarded cell
[SEPT. 6, 2006]
SPRINGFIELD -- Responding to alarming reports
about sensitive personal and corporate information being easily
retrieved from discarded cell phones, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich sent a
letter Tuesday to two federal regulatory bodies, urging them to
require cell phone companies to develop effective ways to completely
delete a customer's information.
"Recent reports now indicate that
when a cell phone's memory is erased, sensitive information that is
supposed to have been deleted can be easily restored," the governor
wrote in a letter to the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission,
Deborah Platt Majoras, and the chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission, Kevin J. Martin. "Current federal laws
require cell phone companies to protect their customer's personal
information, but clearly there's a gap. I urge both of your agencies
to require cell phone companies to develop more effective methods to
completely delete a customer's information."
Recent media reports
about the ease with which sensitive information that was supposed to
have been deleted from discarded or reset cell phones was retrieved,
using inexpensive software that is found on the Internet, have
raised alarm about confidential information falling into the wrong
hands or being used for unlawful purposes.
According to one of those reports, software experts who bought 10
discarded phones on eBay were able to easily retrieve, among other
A company's plan to
win a multimillion-dollar federal transportation contract.
E-mails about another
company's payments for a software license.
about a man's prescription drugs and utility payments.
Bank account numbers
and passwords from several individuals.
The media reports indicated that instructions provided by
manufacturers to delete a customer's information are often hard to
use or even find, whereas the tools to retrieve supposedly deleted
information are easy for hackers and identity thieves to find and
Blagojevich has taken aggressive steps to protect private
information from identity theft, including recently enacted
legislation that made Illinois one of the first states in the nation
to outlaw "pretexting," an unlawful practice that allows an
individual pretending to be an account holder to obtain cell phone
records, long-distance call records and other personal records. [Senate
This year, Illinois also enacted other pieces of legislation to
protect personal information and combat identity theft, including:
Senate Bill 2310, which allows Illinois residents to put a
security freeze on their credit report if they believe their
personal information has been compromised.
House Bill 4179, which prohibits identity theft offenders
from changing their names.
House Bill 4438 and
House Bill 4449, which give state employees and agencies
additional requirements for properly disposing of personal
information and notifying residents if their information has
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The text of the governor's letter to the FTC and the FCC follows:
September 5, 2006
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580
Kevin J. Martin
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
Majoras and Chairman Martin:
I am writing today
regarding the need for greater protections and privacy for cell
Recent reports now
indicate that when a cell phone's memory is erased, sensitive
information that is supposed to have been deleted can be easily
restored by anyone using inexpensive software that can be downloaded
from the Internet.
More alarming are
the examples of the types of information that are all too easily
available: information containing a company's plan to win a
multimillion-dollar federal contract, an individual's personal
medical history, and emails about a firm's software license.
There is a clear
cause for alarm when a person's or company's most sensitive
information -- information that was supposed to have been eliminated
when their cell phones are reset or discarded -- can easily end up
in the wrong hands or [be] used for unlawful purposes.
Here in Illinois
we've taken aggressive steps to protect private information from
identity thieves, including enacting legislation that made Illinois
one of the first states in the nation to outlaw the practice of "pretexting",
where an individual pretends to be an account holder to unlawfully
obtain cell phone records, long distance records and other personal
laws require cell phone companies to protect their customers'
personal information, but clearly there's a gap. The Federal
Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are
charged with monitoring and regulating telephone companies and
I urge both of your
agencies to require cell phone companies to develop more effective
methods to completely delete a customer's information.
Rod R. Blagojevich
[News release from the governor's