>Electronic peephole -- compare the following two calls given Calling
>Line ID and its more sophisticated cousin, Calling *Party* ID:
> Calling Line ID Calling Party ID
> (number only) (ASCII string)
>Call #1 | 703-847-1234 ABC CARPET SALES
>Call #2 | 703-847-5678 VA. STATE PATROL
Calling Party ID. If you really mean "Calling Party ID", how do you
identify yourself to your home phone differently from your spouse or
son? How does the phone prevent you from identifying yourself as your
son? The (un)forgability of the ID goes beyond just technical issues.
I have several objections to Calling Party ID as proposed:
- Unless the IDs are unique per line (or group of lines at the same
location) over the entire earth, I can't block JOHN D. SMITH #268, who
sells insurance, without blocking JOHN D. SMITH #891, my manager.
("Blocking" means customer-provided blocking, which may mean reading the
display and deciding not to answer, or using some fancy CPE computer to
do the same thing). Services like Call*Block can't economically handle
blocking 10% of an entire local calling area of a large city.
- The name "Calling Party ID" is making claims on which it cannot deliver.
But some people might believe them. I can easily imagine a
jealous husband examining the caller-ID device and beating up on his
wife because she spends too much time talking to men. Actually,
he is observing that there is no room for "MR.& MRS. JOHN D. FINKELHEIMER"
or "JOHN D. & MARY F. FINKELHEIMER" on the display, so most married couples
show up as a male name.
- Some people might consider the ownership-of-the-line information to be
an invasion of privacy, or embarassing. For example, some couples living
together will not appreciate being identified to either set of parents as
a couple, the wrong member of the couple, or ANONYMOUS, which is a tip-off
that something funny is going on. I don't consider suggestions that
all households should have a line per person to be particularly helpful.
- The proposal says nothing about pay phones at all. Is the display
supposed to say "PAYPHONE SE CORNER OF MAIN AND 7TH, EAST TIMBUCKTU,
NORTH DAKOTA, USA"? Or is the user supposed to key in his own or
someone else's ID? There is a similar problem with hotel residents
vs. someone working for the hotel chain.
- Having the IDs of a group of lines going to the same business be the
same would probably defeat any attempt to figure out whether it's a
modem or human based on calling number, so "SOUTHWESTERN BELL" might
be their Wire Maintenance Telemarketing department or their USENET node.
Of course, businesses with all their lines behind one PBX will defeat
this with Caller-ID also.
- Probably the only way to assure privacy when calling an enemy hotline,
especially where the enemy has power over your carrier, is to run the call
through several mutually non-cooperating carriers that are so hostile to
each other they won't exchange billing information. (In this instance, why
would they be willing to carry the call at all?) Calls to the IRS should go
through China, the Soviet Union, South Africa, Lebanon, bounce off the moon,
and then on to the Romulins, the Borg, and the Ferengi before going to the
IRS. The trouble is, the end-to-end delay on the line would get a little
long. Nobody else has a solution to this, either, but a per-call ID disable
is a good start.
Gordon L. Burditt