What's anonymous?

Voice Card  -  Volume 32  -  Paul Card Number 7  -  Mon, Jun 13, 1994 11:13 PM

This is a response to VC 31 Janine 5 ("Everything Has Its Price")...

I pretty much agree with Janine's position on this. I'd like to point out, though, that *occasionally* it's possible to turn the cards on the nasty outside world through application of technology.

Today's example is caller-ID screening. Just this month US West, my local telephone company, started advertising this service. The basic idea is that one can buy or rent a little box with a LCD readout that attaches to the telephone. Ultimate Electronics is selling these boxes for as little as $29, so price may not be a major issue. Once attached, it gives the telephone number and name of anyone calling you even before you answer the call! Of course by "name" I mean the name of the person or company to whom the number is registered. And even the least expensive box will remember the last 20 phone calls placed to you, whether or not you were around to pick up the phone!

This little box strikes me as a major addition to my privacy arsenal. No more picking up the phone for carpet cleaning pitches! No more wondering who it was that called but didn't leave a message on the machine!

Of course the flip side of the coin is that there's reduced privacy in *making* calls now, too. The people you call may know your name before they pick up the phone. Integrate this with a computer, and they may know your address, bank account balance, and spending habits - all before you say hello. This is not pie-in-the-sky; some businesses have implemented such systems already. Yikes! But if this gives you the heebie-jeebies, just order "Call Blocking" from your friendly telephone service provider, and the person you call won't see your name or number.

In the balance, who wins? I'm not sure; I think it may be too early to tell.