Sprint Nextel sues over sale of call records

Company files its second lawsuit to prevent Web sites from obtaining and selling customer billing information.

Marguerite Reardon
Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
2 min read
Sprint Nextel has filed a second lawsuit against a company that it claims is selling confidential call records and information of its wireless customers over the Internet.

On Monday, the mobile operator filed a suit in Dade County, Fla., against All Star Investigations (ASI), a company believed to own and operate Web sites including OnlinePI.com, AllStarInvestigations.com, DetectivesUSA.com, MiamiProtection.com and PrivateDetectivesUSA.com. Sprint claims that these sites have fraudulently obtained and sold private billing records of its customers.

This is the second lawsuit Sprint has filed against a company it said is selling customer cell phone records online. On Friday, it filed a lawsuit against First Source Information Specialists, parent company of Locatecell.com, Datafind.org and others. In both suits, Sprint is asking the court to impose both temporary and permanent injunctions against these companies.

"The schemes perpetrated by these online data brokers are intolerable, and our intent is to put an end to these practices," Kent Nakamura, vice president for telecom management and chief privacy officer for Sprint Nextel, said in a statement. "These online data brokers attempt to manipulate our customer service resources and detract from service provided to legitimate customers."

A spokesman for the company said Sprint Nextel is continuing a full-scale investigation into other companies, but for now, it does not plan to file any additional lawsuits.

The companies being sued could not be reached for this story.

Sprint's lawsuits are the latest in a series of legal actions by cell phone carriers. Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have also filed lawsuits against companies that own Web sites selling customer information. T-Mobile and Cingular have each won temporary restraining orders against First Source Information Specialists.

The recent lawsuits have prompted U.S. lawmakers, state attorneys general and the Federal Communications Commission to look more closely at the collection of consumer data.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce scheduled a hearing on the issue for Wednesday, and the Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing on Feb. 8, the panels announced Friday. Lawmakers on both committees are drafting legislation.

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have proposed new legislation to criminalize the activity of fraudulently obtaining customer information.