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Caller ID helps (continued...)

(Continued from page 4)

Confidential support lines have the only tenable argument for allowing restrictions on Caller ID, and for the sake of these organizations alone I support some limited blocking ability for Caller ID.

One way to balance all concerns would be for an individual to be able to block caller ID only on a call-by-call basis. The phone company would keep a record of all requests to block tracing, the number of the person subsequently called and the number of the person who called him. These records would be available to anyone willing to call and find out. People who call for this information would be automatically traced. If an obscene caller tried to deactivate Caller ID to make a harassing phone call, the phone company would have a record. If an unscrupulous hotline staffer tried to find out who ordered a trace blocking and then called him, his identity would be recorded for possible legal action. Everybody wins.

Another nifty option I heard from a friend is to enable Caller ID users to detect whether or not a call they are making is being traced, and if so, allow the caller to terminate the call. Another feature could allow a person to block untraceable calls from reaching his phone. Harassing callers with untraceable lines would suddenly find that they can't get through to anyone. People who call hotlines would know if staffers were trying to finger them.

Caller ID is a great technology, and America's phone lines are a public forum. If political candidates must reveal the identities of people who donate to their campaigns, we certainly have the right to keep phantom phoney phone callers from hiding behind anonymity.