Caller ID (NOT Another Flame!)

Caller ID (NOT Another Flame!)

Post by Gordon Burdi » Mon, 19 Feb 1990 03:22:41

>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

What you have proposed appears to be "Calling Line Owner ID", not
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
  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


Caller ID (NOT Another Flame!)

Post by David Lew » Tue, 20 Feb 1990 02:20:44


> > Why aren't the BOCs rushing to offer this (calling name delivery)
> > as a solution?
> > Simple... Judge Greene won't let them.  Running a phone number through
> > a database and flashing an associated ASCII string onto your screen
> > qualifies as an information-processing service, and that's a no-no.
> I haven't studied the break-up too closely, but it would seem this is
> an ideal opportunity for a symbiotic service. Couldn't the private
> sector produce a company to service this information-processing? And
> wouldn't that be seperate from the BOC itself?

Yes, but...  Consider a telco which decides to do this.  First of all,
it's not clear that a telco could enter into contractual arrangements
with a single information provider to provide this service.  If Telco
XYZ signs a contract with company A to provide this information
service, you can bet that companies B, C, and D will be appealing to
the Court, the DOJ, and the FCC that this is in contravention of the
MFJ, Computer Inquiry 3, and probably the seventh Commandment.

But, let's say for the sake of argument that the various governmental
bodies allow this to take place in some way.  You now have a situation
where the telco, in the course of call setup, is sending a query to a
third party and receiving back information which it will send during
call setup.

This is not a thing telcos like to do.  Once a connection is
established you can play around however you like -- but letting some
other party have a potential impact on call setup makes telco execs
and engineers very, very nervous.

(note -- we're talking basic intra-LATA calls for now.  Inter-LATA
calls are a slightly different case -- but the fact still holds to a
great deal; once the call comes into the telco's hands, they want to
keep all the factors affecting call setup in their control.)

Imagine what happens if the third party database goes down, or is
overloaded, or (heaven forbid) is inaccurate.  The service no longer
works as advertised, and if it's not designed to gracefully handle the
failure of a query, POTS no longer works quite right...

And this doesn't even get into the point I raised up top about
exclusivity of information providers.  Chances are awfully good IMHO
that a telco would *not* be permitted to enter into an exclusive
contract with an information provider to provide this service -- which
means there would be potentially multiple information providers, all
of whom can have an impact on call setup.  The telco would be
obligated to provide the calling party ID on an open interface and
accept back the calling party name on an open interface.  (In fact, I
haven't checked out any Regional Company's ONA (Open Network
Architecture) filings lately, but I suspect one or more may have this
in there -- and if they don't, I strongly suspect information
providers want it.)

Then you get into things like information provider selection -- whose
database gets queried on a given call, one I subscribe to, one my
caller subscribes to, or some other choice -- billing for information,
charging for information...

Gosh, I love this industry.  It promises such a high level of
employment for engineers, lawyers, policy analysts...

David G Lewis                                   ...!bellcore!nvuxr!deej

                        "If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawnmower."


1. Caller ID (NOT another flame!)

Maybe I'm just not as suspicious as the average Digest reader, but I
think that if I had caller ID in whatever form, I'd still find it
nearly useless.  After all, if the screen shows a number [or a name,
or whatever] that I don't know, it's as likely to be someone calling
me from a payphone somewhere as it is a life-insurance salesman.  In
other words, I'll answer my phone no matter who may be calling.

The one practical use I can think of is preventing me from answering
calls for my roommate, or vice versa.  Nevertheless, I suspect that as
caller ID comes into broader use, we'll find that it's not as useful
as we think it will be.  (And of course it'll never appear here at
Brandeis anyway :-)...)

Scott Fybush
Disclaimer: This may not even be my own opinion.

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