*****SPAM***** [Politech] Weekly column: Senate's legalized extortion on cell phone legislation

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Mon Sep 27 2004 - 06:29:03 PDT

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Legalized extortion by any other name
September 27, 2004, 4:00 AM PT
By Declan McCullagh

Members of the U.S. Senate heroically leapt into action last week by 
preventing cell phone companies from adding your mobile number to 
directory assistance without your permission.


In reality, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation's 
approval of the Wireless 411 Privacy Act bill was an exercise in 
frivolity and futility. All six of the cellular providers that are 
creating the 411 directory repeatedly have pledged to abide by a strict 
"opt in" standard for the service, which could launch in 2005.

Steve Largent, a former congressman who's now head of the Cellular 
Telecommunications & Internet Association, attempted to pacify the 
feckless committee members a day before the vote, stressing that "the 
only way a number will be listed is if the customer specifically asks 
that it be made available."

Largent's plea didn't work. The committee's Democratic members, joined 
by two Republicans, decided that the feds needed to force the cellular 
industry to do, well, precisely what the cellular industry was already 

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