What A Bad Idea: 411 For Cell Phones

Commercial interests are gearing up to benefit from making our personal cell phone information to the public.
Soon 411 will be able to sell your cell phone number to make extra money from its service. You’ll have to pay extra if you want to keep your number unlisted.
I think this is horrible news — A directory service for cell phones only makes sense if you have to opt-in to it, not if the burden is on you to not only opt-out of it, but pay for the privilege.
Now we’ll have to pay to be unlisted!
This seems more like a service you should have to pay to be included in, not the other way around.
Cell phone’s are largely “private” lines. If someone wants their business line listed, they can take the time to list it. The average person shouldn’t have to take up their time and valuable resources to make sure they’ve opted out.
Also, one mistake and the average person will have to foot the cost of getting a new phone number, so they can “try again” at protecting their privacy.
Please let me know if anyone knows how this can:
1) be stopped.
2) changed from an “opt-out” policy to an “opt-in” policy where the burden will be placed on the people who want to participate, not the people who want to protect their privacy.
3) be “opted out” of, at NO CHARGE, with confirmation IN WRITING, so a company can be taken to court if a mistake is made, and far enough (like a year) in advance of the roll out that we can no for sure that our privacy will be protected.
4) be made a built-in requirement for customers to be provided with a freely-available opt-out option at the same time they purchase a cell phone to make it as easy has possible to protect their privacy.
Privacy needs to be the default — not the paid-for exception.
Please keep an eye out for developments on this front and let me know about them! Thanks!
Wireless numbers to be added to 411
Large cell phone carriers on board with plan, source says

The centralized database of wireless numbers would be off limits to telemarketers, and consumers would be able to choose whether to have their numbers listed or unlisted, according to people familiar with the process.
Individual carriers would determine whether subscribers would have to pay to be unlisted.
Other privacy options are possible, too.
For example, wireless phone users might choose to be unlisted but willing to receive a short text message, sent through the directory service, from someone trying to contact them.
The nation

4 thoughts on “What A Bad Idea: 411 For Cell Phones

  1. PJ

    I’m slightly less worried about this since IIRC it’s still illegal for telemarketers to call cellphones (since it’s costing the cellphone owner $$ to be solicited to).

  2. Aled

    PJ is right, at least in the state of California it is against the law for a telemarketer to call a cellphone or to SMS a cellphone because the user is carrying the cost of the call. So unless they change this then telemarketers still wouldn’t be able to call your cellphone. Reason number 1 why I only ever give out my cellphone number :).
    Not sure if this is the case other states.

  3. TJ

    I’ll try to give you what information I know about this process. First, it will be up to your cellular provider, not the 411 service, to determine what the cost might be (if any) to be unlisted. Fortunately there can be other ways to unlist your wireless number.
    For example if I was looking for your phone number I could look up your number over the Internet or over web-enabled cell phones. Let’s say I find you, but your number is unlisted. I could then send a text message (for a fee I pay) to your phone that I’m trying to contact you without the system giving up your phone number to me. Then YOU could decide if you want to return my call and get your number.
    In that scenario I will be charged a fee to send you that message. Therefore since wireless companies can make it free to allow you to unlist your number since they will still make money from 411 when I paid to send you the message.
    Telmarketers would probably not want to purchase numbers from this type of system due to the cost to obtain the numbers, (as opposed to the free menthods they have now for landlines) and as PJ mentioned it is illegal in many areas for telemarketers to knowingly call cell phones.
    Although we should never believe everything we hear, let’s not forget what was quoted in the article:
    “The centralized database of wireless numbers would be off limits to telemarketers”
    “Individual carriers would determine whether subscribers would have to pay to be unlisted”
    I too have just a cell phone and no landline. Like about 30% of the rest of people who have cell phones I change companies almost once per year. Getting out my phone number to people I know is a pain, and if I forget someone this would give them the ability to track me down again if they pay the fee. I’ll keep my number unlisted, so they will have to send me a message. If I want to call them back and give them my number I will.
    If my carrier decides to charge too much for an unlisted number (or perhaps charge anything) I might switch carriers.
    Just a couple of thoughts, I respect your views.

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