Wireless Cell Phone Directory

By: Rebekah Baum
By: Rebekah Baum

Catherina Barconi likes the wall of privacy that her cell phone provides.

"I don't think I would want people to be able to get my number. You have a cell phone, so only the people that you want to get a hold of you can, so I don't think I would want other people to have access," says Barconi.

Five national wireless companies have banded together to hire Oregon-based Qsent, Incorporated to produce a wireless 4-1-1 service. The companies would pool their listings to create a directory of customers’ names and phone numbers.

But Verizon Wireless is firmly against the directory and has vowed not to publish or make customers' wireless phone numbers available.

"Verizon has been a leader in protecting our customer's privacy. We don't think it's a good idea and the feedback from our customers shows they don't want it. The wireless phone is the one thing that they have that they don't have to face intrusions from telemarketers or other unsolicited calls," says Verizon spokesperson Carolyn Schamberger.

But David Eastman, director of communications for Qsent, says telemarketers would not have access to customers' cell numbers.

"Telemarketers buy lists, so all phone numbers would have to be put on lists, and this isn't going to happen. It's going to be a privacy protected database," says Eastman.

Eastman says the directory would be based on four privacy principles; a customer’s right to choose to be in the directory, a right to change their mind, a right to security from telemarketers and right to not be charged for the service.

"I think it's naive to think that once the directory is available, there isn't a potential for misuse," says Schamberger.

Eastman says there's an e-mail circulating in which consumers are being told that telemarketers will be able to call their cell phones, wasting a person's wireless minutes.

Eastman says it's an urban myth and is illegal by federal law, but for an extra layer of security, consumers can visit the National Do Not Call Registry's website at www.donotcall.gov to block unwanted calls.


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