20 September 2003
Call me? Irresponsible!
This week, there appeared a long and thoughtful piece by Fusilier Pundit (WeckUpToThees!) on the dodgy subject of telemarketing. He spurns the governmental no-call list, and explains what needs to be done:
Generally, the gummint needs to legislate in a way that allows edge-implemented solutions to emerge, instead of requiring centrally-implemented ones. Start by making sure that carriers deliver the full value of my $4.95 per month for caller ID, meaning that I want phone companies to pass that data, even be required by law to pass that data, if the called party is paying to receive it. For those telemarketers using banks of pitchmen offshore, from switches or premises equipment that doesn't generate a caller ID, you're not exempted. At the point where your banks interface to the United States PSTN, you can be required to identify yourselves.
If a telemarketer places calls from a residential line, or a line that's identified as if it were residential (yes, we get them too) maybe the gummint can get involved here, though that will be trickier from a First Amendment standpoint. Caller ID is worthless if the very people who prompted me to order it can duck it.
I reported on my own experience back in the spring of '96:
I installed a Caller ID box and a low-end voice-mail system, and basically just quit answering the telephone entirely.
And eventually I got rid of the voice-mail system, which makes me about as inaccessible as possible without actually ripping the wires from the walls. I don't pick up anything without a number attached. As is the practice chez Fûz, OUT OF AREA sends up a red flag:
We want a telephone that can be programmed not to ring if a caller is unidentified. The overwhelming majority of callers we don't want to talk to mask their caller ID.
I'd pay a few extra bucks for that myself. The telco here offers some sort of challenge/response system, but I suspect it will discourage legitimate callers (of which I have two or three) just as much as it will Verbal Spammers.
And just because I'm listed in the directory doesn't mean I consent to having my bell rung at odd hours.
(Note: Minor imprecisions of phrasing were changed approximately 20 minutes after the original posting, and the title was unsubtly altered.)