Jacking in from the Legislative Port:
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will introduce privacy "bill of rights" tomorrow (Wed.) designed to strengthen existing federal law. Bill would strengthen existing federal law by establishing set of principles to guard consumer privacy in era when "increasing sophistication of computer and telecommunications technologies threaten privacy protections."
The same technologies that empower people can "also imperil them" by "fostering and abetting" acts of privacy invasion," Markey said. As the U.S. rushes to lay the spectral groundwork for the so-called information superhighway, "we must also build-in adequate privacy protections to ensure that its travellers can use it without sacrificing important privacy rights," he said.
The telephone companies and long distance providers collect "nuggets of treasured information," on citizens, Markey said. Collection of this information has become almost "effortless" given today's sophisticated telecom networks, he said.
The "Telephone Consumer Privacy Act of 1993" does 5 things: (1) Prohibits telephone companies from disclosing or selling customers proprietary network information to anyone without prior consent. (2) Sets "minimum privacy standards" for Caller ID on national basis, including mandatory call blocking. (3) Require businesses that use Automatic Number Identifier (ANI) when consumers call 800 or 900 numbers to inform you of their intention to reuse or sell information gleaned from ANI. (4) Strengthen existing law requiring 3rd party access to toll records -- information on your monthly bill -- be given only to lawful authorities. (Contrary to popular belief, just about anyone can get access to your telephone bill.... some companies even advertise they can give you anyone's phone bill in the U.S. for as little as $10). (5) Require FCC to establish basic privacy principles for any telecommunications medium.