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Political Notes: Don't Call Us; We'll Call You!

August 25, 2005 By:
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Don't Call Us; We'll Call You!
Tracking down most people is as simple as looking up a phone number. All that's required is a quick shuffle through the White Pages or a few keystrokes on an Internet search engine, and the home telephone of John Q. Public comes into focus.

Concerned that the same could become the order of the day for Mr. Public's flip phone, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) wants the wireless industry to ask its subscribers for permission before publishing the numbers in a directory.

Dubbed the Wireless 411 Privacy Act, legislation sponsored this summer by Specter and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) would require consumers to sign off on the release of their cell-phone number.

"The wireless industry is on the verge of introducing a wireless White Pages service," said Specter. "It raises concerns about how consumers' expectation of privacy will be protected."

The bill is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The First Line of Defense
State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-District 153) is also concerned with numbers lately - Social Security numbers, that is.

According to the freshman legislator from Montgomery County, Social Security numbers have become a person's de facto identification number for everything from insurance policies to bank statements.

That makes the nine-digit string incredibly easy to steal.

"Every day we hear about security breaches and lost or misplaced records," said the lawmaker, who earlier this month introduced a bill that would prohibit state agencies and Pennsylvania businesses from using Social Security numbers for I.D. purposes.

"Identity theft is a real and growing concern in our information-based economy," he added. "Protecting your Social Security number is the first line of defense against identity theft."

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