Although representatives deny any connection to the recent prank call on the governor, two legislators began circulating a bill Monday that would ban making trick calls masking the caller’s true identity.
Sen. Mary Lazich, R-Waukesha, and Rep. Mark Honadel, R-Milwaukee, authored a bill that would prohibit tricking the call’s recipient into believing the caller is someone they are not for malicious purposes.
“While use of spoofing is said to have some legitimate uses, it can also be used to frighten, harass and potentially defraud,” Lazich and Honadel said in an e-mail to legislators.
The bill language forbids a caller from intentionally providing a false phone number and convincing the person receiving the call that it comes from someone other than the actual caller.
The bill would make it illegal to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain any information of value from using a caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information. It would also prohibit individuals from masking their voices or providing a fake phone number to the call recipient, said Jason Vick, spokesperson for Honadel.
A district attorney would enforce the prohibition on call spoofing. A person in violation of the law would be subject to a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 for each call made, according to the bill.
However, law enforcement and government regulatory agents who use phone spoofing to fight crime would be exempt from the law.
Although the authors of the bill denied any relationship, the bill’s circulation comes shortly after blogger Ian Murphy’s prank call to Gov. Scott Walker last week. Murphy impersonated billionaire Republican donor David Koch in the call.
Lawmakers introduced the bill at the end of the last session but ran out of time to pass it, Vick said.
The bill has already garnered some outside support.
“Transparency and honesty are always better than secrecy and deception. If this bill will help protect consumers, it deserves a hearing and deserves to be passed,” said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin.
The bill is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.