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Phone number-masking plan a good one

In response to the Perspectives column written by Declan McCullagh, "Legalized extortion by any other name":

I read your article, and I both agree and disagree with you.

I happen to like the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association plan, and my research shows that a majority of consumers will eventually elect to opt in under the plans it has laid out. John Walls is right.

However, there are reasons to look at obligating phone companies to mask numbers. No one company or organization--not even the CTIA--can force every carrier (including all 1,300-plus fixed-line carriers) to provide number masking. Most of the innovative options that provide consumers with a higher level of privacy--and they ranked significantly higher in the research we did--cannot be implemented without this baseline masking capability in place across all carriers.

That is the basis for endorsing this bill, though I don't like the last-minute changes. Innovation, contrary to what was said in the hearings, will be driven by creating this baseline number-masking capability, not hindered by it. That said, I'm sure that the wireless industry fears the proverbial slippery slope: Add one regulation, and more could follow.

Kathleen Pierz
Managing partner, The Pierz Group
Clarkston, Mich.