Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) has talked to AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Apple, Google and other companies for more information on how they safeguard their customers against phone hacking.
The phone hacking scandal in the UK has raised privacy and security concerns on this side of the Atlantic, after journalists at News Corp.’s now-defunct paper News of the World admitted that they had asked private investigators to intercept the phone messages of celebrities and ordinary citizens.
Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Bono Mack, said that this is, at the very least, an instructive exercise to see whether Americans are vulnerable to these sorts of hacks. “This is to try and get a handle on the situation and get assurances that this is a uniquely UK problem,” he said.
These conversations are part of a larger effort by Bono Mack, who chairs that House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on commerce, trade and manufacturing, to take a look at privacy and data security laws.
“We look at this as an opportunity to gain information that will help us as we decide whether or not new regulations are needed for Americans’ personally identifiable information,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is that we’re trying to balance the need to remain innovative with the need to protect privacy — and that cuts to the heart of the issue.”
Bono Mack has also spoken to News Corp. to get assurances that no Americans were targeted by News of the World.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have called for the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to look into whether or not the newspaper violated Americans’ privacy.