With the impending rollout of a
national 411 directory of cell phone numbers, concern over privacy issues has
hit a new high.
Six national wireless companies –
AT&T, AllTel, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint PCS and T-Mobile – have hired Qsent
Inc. to produce a wireless 411 service due to launch sometime in 2005.
What numbers will or won’t be
listed in the directory is apparently such a hot topic that Qsent has a page
dedicated to that very question on its Web site.
In a nutshell, Qsent says it is an “opt-in” service. Qsent specifically points out that “if a consumer chooses not
to participate, or does nothing, their information will not be included in the
The directory “will not exist in
print, electronically or on the Internet, in whole or in part,” according to
Qsent. The only way listings may be accessed is through real-time, single use
by the 411-operator service center.
Since the announcement of the
impending cell phone directory, concern about the possible use of it by
telemarketers has begun to circulate via chain e-mails.
Many of the e-mails suggest cell
phone users “must” add their cell phone numbers to the National Do Not Call
list before Jan. 1, 2005, to avoid being bombarded with cell-phone solicitors.
Snopes.com, the urban legend
reference Web site, puts this rumor to rest with its “Celling Your Soul” report.
Despite Qsent’s assurances to
privacy, the Snopes report points out that many people simply don’t trust the
wireless 411 consortium to keep its promises. But there really isn’t a big need
to run for the cover of the National Do Not Call Registry.
“Adding one’s cell phone number to the National Do Not
Call Registry (even if currently unnecessary) won’t likely have any adverse
effect, but customers should be aware of exactly what that action will or will
not accomplish,” the Snopes report stated.
Jumping on the National Do Not Call Registry, at this
point, is pretty much unnecessary. It won’t keep your number out of the
directory – remember you have to opt in. And since cell numbers cannot be
accessed in bulk, just one call at a time, the directory is unlikely to fall
into the evil clutches of telemarketers.
anyone wanting to go the extra mile and make sure their number is not included – back to that whole trust thing – the National
Do Not Call Registry has accepted personal cell phone and home phone number
registrations since it opened for consumer registrations in June 2003. There is
no deadline to register a home or cell phone number on the Registry.
register a telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, or to file a
complaint, consumers should visit donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. Consumers registering a phone number online will be
asked to provide a valid e-mail address to which a confirmation of the
registration will be sent. A registration is not complete until the consumer
clicks on the link in the e-mail. Consumers registering by phone must call from
the phone number they wish to register.
– By Jami Jones