The first time I jailbroke my iPhone and used SpoofApp, I called up a good friend of mine and (thanks to the voice changer) pretended to be a lusty old flame that just couldn’t get over him.
Not exactly my finest moment — but if I had waited a few more months, it might have even been illegal. It all depends on whether or not House Resolution 1258 (a.k.a. The Truth in Caller ID Act) gets signed into law.
H.R. 1258 isn’t exactly the newest piece of legislature on the block, nor is it the first to attempt to criminalize caller ID spoofing, but with its passing in the House of Representatives today, it’s one step closer to going on the books. The gist of the resolution reads as follows:
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any real time voice communications service, regardless of the technology or network utilized, to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud or deceive.
It’s the last bit of that last sentence that’s the most important. The resolution doesn’t explicitly make caller ID spoofing illegal, it makes spoofing with ill intent illegal. Right now, the spotlight is mostly on spoofing as performed by telemarketers to circumvent the Do-Not-Call list, but the actual language leaves the issue of regular people using spoofing applications vague.
Sure, there’s a pretty clear distinction between spoofing to play a joke on a friend and spoofing to call in a bomb threat, but since the same app could easily be used for both (especially combined with some clever social engineering), are the tools involved at risk of becoming illegal too? All things considering, probably not: after all, it’s not the act of buying and possessing lockpicks that’s illegal (unless you live in one of these states), but their use for unwanted entry that’s illegal. It’d a bit much to warn SpoofApp users to do so at their own peril, but just to be safe, make sure the person on the other end thinks the joke is as funny as you do.