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Terminating An Invasion of Your Privacy
Arnold Schwarzenegger is capable of terminating more than just enemies from the future. He is also capable of protecting your privacy. Gov. Schwarzenegger was recently commended by Consumers Union (CU) for signing into law a bill that will give Californians "the right to decide for themselves whether their cell phone number is listed in a planned wireless 411 directory..." The legislation "requires wireless carriers to get express written consent first and prohibits charging customers not to be included in the 411 directory."

Although supportive of the new law, the Governor is not pleased with all of its provisions and seeks some minor modifications to make it more consumer friendly. Specifically, CU stated that the Governor "indicated that he believed the written consent provision was ‘over burdensome' in the age of electronic commerce and that he hoped to work with the legislature to ease that requirement next year." Winston is somehow not surprised that Governor Schwarzenegger favors taking advantage of high technology. Winston is also not surprised that CU and other unnamed "consumer groups" apparently disagree with the Governor.

As usual, California is often a national trendsetter. This week the House Commerce Committee will be considering the "Wireless 411 Privacy Act." Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a comparable bill that "would allow consumers to control their cell numbers and prohibit wireless companies from charging new fees to keep their number private." There are some differences between the House and Senate bills that would need to be resolved before they could become federal law.

With all the unfinished work left on Congress' plate, Winston doesn't know if the proposed legislation will be completed this year. However, although he unsure whether CU and other watchdog groups are on the right track with regard to the specific provisions they want to see in the bill, he is sure that Governor Schwarzenegger is right about two key issues: 1) consumers should have a right to keep their cell phone numbers private; and 2) the regulatory procedures for maintaining cell phone privacy should impose as little burden as practical.

  • Click for Consumer Union Press Release.

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