Telemarketers and the Wireless 411 Directory

Lynnette Phillips

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It isn’t surprising in our society of highly mobile individuals to learn that there are 192 million cell phones in use in the U. S. today. As many as 17 million of those users utilize their cell phone as their primary means of contact and 10% of those subscribers use their cell phone as their only phone. Cell phones have become essential to us for use in emergency situations, to help protect our personal safety, the enhancement of business productivity and for social interaction.

Is it any wonder that when email campaigns began to suggest that with the advent of a Wireless 411 Directory there would be uncontrolled telemarketer calls eating up our free minutes and costing us money for them to do business, everyone began seeing red.

Well, there’s good news. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tells us regulations prohibit any person from using automatic dialers to call cell phone numbers. Automatic dialing devices are an industry standard for telemarketers. This rules out use of the Wireless 411 Directory by telemarketers.

With that said, there are still many questions related to the Wireless 411 Directory due to launch in 2006. But there are also answers.

According to a survey conducted by the Pierz Group, as many as 74% of cell phone users favor a Wireless 411 Directory if there are privacy protection options available. One of the planned protections will be that no physical directory will exist, either in print, electronic form or on the Internet. The only access to the directory will be by the 411 Directory Assistance operator through the same system as used for landline phones. The information, when received, is intended for one time use only.

Remembering that telemarketer calls to mobile phones will still be illegal and that there will be no material form of the directory, there are still more protections. There will be no listing for the operator to find unless the cell phone subscriber preauthorizes the free listing with their own mobile phone carrier. A subscriber can only be listed in the directory on an opt-in basis. When the carrier notifies the subscriber of the availability of the free listing service, the subscriber will need to respond with a definite answer regarding their wish to be listed—if there is no response from a subscriber, their cell phone number(s) will not be listed in the database. If the subscriber chooses to authorize a listing but later changes his or her mind, the carrier can be contacted and all identifiable information will be deleted from the database.

The United States Congress is considering wireless privacy legislation even though there are existing privacy laws in place to protect landline phone users that extend to cell phone users. These laws include the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry, the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Many states are also considering their own bills that would further protect our rights and privacy.

Even prior to wireless privacy legislation, the Wireless 411 Service has been guided by four choice and privacy principles:

  • The right to choose

    o Consumers must opt-in to have their number included in the directory

  • The right to change one’s mind

    o Consumers may choose to have their number removed

  • The right to security

    o No physical directory will exist in any form

  • The right to these choices at no charge

    o No fee will be charged for listings, additions or deletions

    A Wireless 411 Directory will neither rob us of our choices or privacy nor will it submit our cell phone numbers to telemarketers.

    To read more about the proposed Wireless 411 Directory go to

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