Gallstone #10

April 12, 1999

Do you remember all the controversy about caller-id technology? A couple
years ago, when the concept was being introduced, there were some concerns
raised by a lot of people-
  1. When I answer a page from my home, I may not know who is paging me, but they will know my phone #. hmmm...
  2. When I call Citibank to tell 'em I'm gonna be late w/ my payment, maybe I don't want them to have my home phone number.
  3. Maybe I'd like to complain about something- anonymously.
  4. When I call someone to order some idiotic mail-order trinket, they could sell my number to other telemarketers.
  5. Anyone who I call will have my phone #, and thus can "reverse-lookup" my address, even if my # is unlisted. So much for answering a personal ad.

Basically, I don't want everyone I call to know my phone number. Simple.
So, to placate the *eccentrics* and *malcontents* among the masses, Ma Bell
offered a compromise- you can block the ID of your own phone, so all your
outgoing calls would be recieved as "anonymous". Fine, I'm OK with that.
Except (you knew this was coming, right?) you aren't really blocking the ID
of your phone number.
Have you gotten a credit card recently that requires you to activate it, by
*calling from your home phone*? How convenient! Less numbers to punch in,
or less time spent talking to (ugh) another human.
When I call the Gas Company, or the Electric Company, I just punch in my
street address for verification- they already know where I'm calling from.

Neat! What a cool feature.

Are you following me here? MY CALLER-ID IS BLOCKED. Yet somehow every
big-brother operation, everybody that pays a really big phone bill every
month, knows where I'm calling from anyway. Did Ma Bell sell us out? That
was rhetorical- we all know the answer.

Isn't this EXACTLY (let me repeat for emphasis- EXACTLY) what we didn't
want to happen? We're shitting away our privacy again, after Ma Bell
promised us we could keep it, for a newly-fabricated *convenience feature*
of modern technology. Somehow a little sugar-coating makes it all seem OK.

Fuckin-A we're stupid. Who do I *see* about this?

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