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TitleTelephone Privacy Act of 1990
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Page 1

TELEPHONE PRIVACY ACT OF 1990

41

HEARING
BEFOH

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
COURTS, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY,

AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FIRST CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

ON

H.R. 4340
TELEPHONE PRIVACY ACT OF 1990

SEPTEMBER 19, 1990

Serial No. 123

Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

37-485 « WASHINGTON ! 1991

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office
US. Government Printing Office. Washington. DC 20402

Page 2

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

JACK BROOKS, Texas, Chairman
ROBERT W. KASTENMEIER, Wisconsin HAMILTON FISH, JR., New York
DON EDWARDS, California CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
JOHN CONYERS, JR., Michigan HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
ROMANO L. MAZZOLI, Kentucky F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR.,
WILLIAM J. HUGHES, New Jersey Wisconsin
MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
PATRICIA SCHROEDER, Colorado GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
DAN GLICKMAN, Kansas MICHAEL DEWINE, Ohio
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts WILLIAM E. DANNEMEYER, California
GEO. W. CROCKETT, JR.. Michigan HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York D. FRENCH SLAUGHTER. JR., Virginia
BRUCE A. MORRISON, Connecticut LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
EDWARD F. FEIGHAN, Ohio CHUCK DOUGLAS, New Hampshire
LAWRENCE J. SMITH, Florida CRAIG T. JAMES, Florida
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California TOM CAMPBELL, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
HARLEY O. STAGGERS, JR., West Virginia
JOHN BRYANT, Texas
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland
MEL LEVINE, California
GEORGE E. SANGMEISTER, Illinois
CRAIG A. WASHINGTON, Texas

WILLIAM M. JONES, General Counsel
ROBERT H. BRINK, Deputy General Counsel

ALAN F. COPFEY, JR., Minority Chief Counsel

SUBCOMMITTEE ON COURTS, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF

JUSTICE

ROBERT W. KASTENMEIER Wisconsin, Chairman
GEO. W. CROCKETT, JR., Michigan CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
JOHN BRYANT, Texas HOWARD COBLE. North Carolina
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia D. FRENCH SLAUGHTER JR., Virginia
GEORGE E. SANGMEISTER Illinois HAMILTON FISH, JR., New York
WILLIAM J. HUGHES, New Jersey F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER JR.,
MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma Wisconsin
MEL LEVINE, California

MICHAEL J. REMINGTON, Chief Counsel
VIRGINIA E. SLOAN. Counsel
CHARLES G. GEYH, Counsel

ELIZABETH R. FINE, Counsel
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Minority Counsel

JOSEPH V. WOLFE, Minority Counsel

(II)

qi^totv^^

Page 87

Abusive calls range from graphically obscene calls directed at women and
children to threatening calls designed to intimidate or evoke fear in the recipient
In addition, anonymous callers often seek to disrupt schools and the work place
through telephoned bomb threats, incite unrest through anonymous hate calls, or
intimidate witnesses. The experience in Bell Atlantic clearly demonstrates that
unrestricted Caller ID is an effective deterrent to these calls:

• A seven year old child in Passaic, New Jersey was so alarmed
by the threats of an obscene caller that she had to be
accompanied to and from elementary school each day. When
Caller ID became available in her area, her mother subscribed
to the service and obtained the number of the caller. She called
him and threatened to go to the police if the calls did not stop.
The calls stopped.

• A Maryland customer plagued by a "breather" for more than
two years was able to identify the source of the calls the first
day Caller ID was used. The customer immediately called
back and confronted the caller. Again, the calls stopped.

• A Virginia Beach woman, whose husband frequently travels,
received a number of obscene calls. Using Caller ID, the
woman was able to get the caller's phone number and called
him back. They have not received any more calls from that
caller.

• A New Jersey state legislator and his wife regularly received
harassing calls before they subscribed to Caller ID. The
legislator, who now subscribes to Caller ID to screen all of his
incoming calls, advised the anonymous caller that he had the
caller's number. The calls stopped.

These cases are just a few of the many anecdotes continually reported to
Bell Atlantic. In each of these cases, the malicious callers could have used
blocking, if that alternative had been available, to continue their harassment.
Because no such option was available, the victims were able to end the telephone
abuse immediately and decisively •- without the protracted involvement of either
the telephone company or the police. Our Caller ID customers tell us that what
they like best about the service is the fact that they are able to resolve the problem
themselves by informing the "anonymous" caller that they have his number.
Blocking takes away the customer's ability to resolve such problems immediately.

Page 88

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Proponents of blocking generally seek one of two types of blocking - per line
blocking, where the calling party's number is never passed unless it is
affirmatively unblocked for a particular call, or per call blocking, where the
calling party elects whether to affirmatively block the passage of his number each
time he makes a call. With another version of per line blocking, which may be
implemented in Nevada as a result of the recent decision by the Nevada Public
Service Commission, the calling party's telephone number is permanently
blocked from appearing on a Caller ID device. Based on Bell Atlantic's experience
with Caller ID, neither per line nor per call blocking should be permitted for both
public safety and policy reasons.

Since permanent blocking does not permit the passing of the calling party's
number under any circumstances, Caller ID's life-saving benefits would be
forever lost. In Bayonne, New Jersey, for example, a child started choking on a
piece of food. Distraught, his mother called the main police number, even though
9-1-1 was available. Before the mother could give the police her address, she
dropped the telephone to return to help her child. The police, with the aid of
Caller ID, quickly identified the caller and dispatched an ambulance, which
arrived in time to save the child's life. If the mother had permanent blocking, her
number would not have passed, and the police would not have been able to quickly
dispatch the assistance necessary to save her son.

Per line blocking with the capability to unblock on a per call basis is
likewise inadequate under emergency conditions. For example, last month in
Hillsdale. New Jersey, a four-year old boy used the programmed button on his
parents' phone to call police. He had just awakened from his afternoon nap and
found he was alone. "My mommy's not here," he sobbed. He could not provide his
address, but with the aid of Caller ID, the police arrived within minutes and
found the boy's mother visiting a next door neighbor. Although in this instance
the story had a happy ending, it illustrates the public safety deficiencies of per line
blocking, even with the capability for per call unblocking. If his parents had per
line blocking, it is unlikely that the child in this example could have dialed the
code necessary to pass his number to the police and the police would not have been
able to quickly come to his assistance.

4

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