'Swatting' case shows need to ban caller-ID spoofing

Fake calls to 911 cause untold trouble, land teen an 11-year sentence

What Matthew Weigman and his cohorts did went so far beyond "pranks" -- or even hacking -- as to leave little room to question the sentence he received yesterday.

From an IDG News Service story on our site:

Matthew Weigman, 19, was part of a group of telephone hackers that met up on telephone party lines and was associated with more than 60 "swatting" calls to 911 numbers across the country. Weigman, known as "Little Hacker," became involved in telephone hacking around age 14 and continued to operate until last year.

Swatters make prank 911 calls, but they use spoofing technology to make it appear as though the call is being made from a victim's house. The idea is to harass their targets, preferably by having police show up at their door, guns drawn.

The details make clear once again the dangers of caller-ID spoofing -- which remains legal in most of the country -- as we've written about here, here and here.

Lawmakers in New York and Louisiana have recently taken steps to control the practice.

Two years ago I wrote a post scoffing at members of Congress who were pushing legislation to outlaw caller-ID spoofing. I was wrong; they were right. People who abuse caller-ID need to know they're breaking the law.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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