Rockefeller Urges Probe Into News Corp. For Phone Hacking

Dennis Brack/Newscom

A powerful U.S. senator with jurisdiction over privacy and telecommunications issues late Tuesday urged regulators to look into whether News. Corp. had violated any U.S. laws when its British journalists gained unauthorized access to several individuals’ voice mails to pursue stories.“The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals–including children–is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics,” said Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Chairman John D. Rockefeller in a press statement.

“This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated,” he added. “I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe.”

Rockefeller didn’t offer any more details regarding who he thinks should do the investigating, but he issued the statement after a Tuesday Federal Communications Commission meeting, in which its Chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters that he doesn’t expect the agency to wade into the issue, but to the extent that it might, its media bureau would investigate the matter.

On Monday, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the leaders of both the House and Senate Commerce Committees calling on them to investigate News Corp.

News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch have come under fire, and the company’s stock has taken a major pummeling after The Guardian authored a series that exposed the News of The World‘s phone hacking practices — which apparently have included accessing the Royals’ phones, a dead teenager’s voice mail, among others.

Some of the British press have reported that a New York City Cop claims that he was contacted by News Of The World reporters for access to the old voice mail records of some of the victims of the September 11 attacks.