- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 10, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A federal judge has struck down North Dakota’s law targeting the practice of disguising caller ID numbers.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor ruled Monday the so-called anti-spoofing law is unconstitutional because it intrudes on interstate commerce regulation, a power reserved for Congress.

The state Legislature passed the law last year because of complaints about harassing and scam phone calls. The law makes it a crime to “transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud or cause harm.”

Traynor wrote that because of cell phones and technology such as call-forwarding, the law has the practical effect of regulating interstate commerce because it’s impossible to determine whether the person receiving the call is physically in North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

SpoofCard LLC, a spoofing service with about 500,000 active users, and CEO Amanda Pietrocola sued last December, arguing that the technique has legitimate uses, such as a doctor or a journalist making a work-related call from a personal phone and wanting to protect the private number.

Attorneys for the state of North Dakota argued that North Dakota’s law is aimed solely at spoofing activity that is done with the intent to defraud.

Violations carry a maximum punishment of a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. A provision in the law also allows spoofing victims to file a civil lawsuit for up to $10,000 in damages per violation.

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