More and more households in the United States are dropping their landlines and switching to cellphones only. With this shift in the customer base, the traditional telephone book is becoming more and more out of date. To help the public keep up with the growing number of cellphone numbers in the world, the website Phonebooks.com began compiling a large database of cellphone numbers for users to browse. However, the company recently reached an agreement with Verizon Wireless customers to protect their privacy.
The Phonebooks.com database is intended to be compiled by people who want their phone numbers listed in the website. But, the company has no way of knowing if the actual account holder is the one uploading the number or not. Another concern came from Verizon Wireless customers who were worried that Phonebooks.com was able to collect their numbers without expressly obtaining their consent.
Since the advent of the Do Not Call list, many citizens have requested to have their landlines taken off of telemarketing contact databases. Many people haven’t had their cellphone numbers added to these contact lists, though, since they don’t really use those lines for business or shopping. Now that more citizens are using those accounts to conduct everyday business, though, they are naturally concerned about third-party businesses and advertisers getting access to their information. The Phonebooks.com database was a ripe field for marketers who wanted to find new ways to contact potential customers.
Verizon voiced its own concerns about the ethics of the Phonebooks.com directory. The Vice President for External Affairs at Verizon said that the company believes that “Verizon Wireless customers should have the opportunity to provide informed consent before (their numbers are) published.” To address these issues, Phonebooks.com announced recently that it would stop displaying cell phone numbers until it determines a legal and ethical way to do so while protecting consumer privacy.
Image c/o: billsoPHOTO