The LA Times [registration required] is reporting that the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America are lobbying the California legislature for an exemption to proposed laws that would outlaw pretexting, the practice of misrepresenting one's identity in order to gain access to confidential or private information. Pretexting was at the core of the recent Hewlett Packard board brouhaha.
The trade groups are arguing that they need to use pretexting to pursue pirates of physical and digital goods and that the proposed legislation would deprive them of an import tool in combating piracy.
"I think it's going to be a very hard go for the RIAA on this because the underlying principal is so visceral to everybody," she [Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica)] said. "I don't want people calling up and pretending to be me to get my personal information. They'll have a hard time convincing people that piracy is so different that they ought to be allowed to engage in these otherwise illegal acts."
Chris Hoofnagle, a privacy attorney at UC Berkeley's Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, said there was no rational reason to exempt one industry from pretexting laws, especially when information can be legally obtained through subpoenas and other means.
"The whole point of these pretexting bills is to rein in private law enforcement that is not accountable to the public or to normal rules," Hoofnagle said. "There isn't much sense in allowing an entire industry to play with a different rule book."