Friday, February 20, 2009

Is This The Party To Whom I Am Speaking?

1896 Telephone, hand cranked magneto on right ...Image via Wikipedia

Technology can make your head hurt. Now, if you want your phone to display "Blocked ID" when you call someone, well, maybe it will and maybe it won't. A company named TelTech has a new service called Trapcall that will reveal those numbers. Wired explains it all. Now, I don't block my ID and I don't get bent out of shape if I get a call from someone who does, but there are circumstances in having your number identified becomes a serious probem.
The service comes as bad news to advocates for domestic violence victims, who fought hard to make free blocking an option in the early days of Caller ID. "I have huge concerns about that,” says Cindy Southworth, director of technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in Washington, D.C. Southworth fears that abusers will use the new service to locate partners fleeing a violent relationship.

In a notable case in 1995, a Texas man named Kevin Roberson shot his ex-girlfriend to death after locating her through the Caller ID device on her roommate's phone line.

You can see where there can be real problems as a result of this service.What worries me about it is the sort of person who'd bother with this. Because you know what? If you're not sure you want to take call you can...just not answer it. Really. I do it all the time with call from unfamiliar area codes. I figure that they're most likely sales calls and if the caller really wants to communicate with me he'll leave a message - and a phone number. Works great and requires no effort on my part. It works for Blocked ID calls too. Trapcall also offers paid upgrades which allow the user to gather more information about

If privacy is worth some money to you, the same people who are bringing you Trapcall already run a service called Spoofcard, which allows you to display any number as your caller ID. What could go wrong with that? Well...
TelTech is no stranger to controversy. Its Spoofcard product lets customers send any phone number they want as their Caller ID. Among other things, the spoofing service has been used by thieves to activate stolen credit cards, by hackers to access celebrities’ voicemail boxes, and by telephone hoaxsters to stage a dangerous prank called "swatting," in which they spoof an enemy’s phone number while calling the police with a fake hostage situation. The goal of swatting — realized in hundreds of cases around the country — is to send armed cops bursting into the victim's home.
Just what the world needs. But the new service creates a whole new market for the first service which is not lost on TelTech CEO, Meir Cohen.
The only way to block your number after this is released is to use Spoofcard,” he says with a laugh.
Mr. Cohen wears his dickishness proudly. This seems very much like a protection racket doesn't it. Maybe TelTech could go full circle and allow us to pay to protect our numbers from being spoofed. Or maybe someone will be seriously damaged and sue these buggers for everything they've got. Whatever that may be.
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