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Rep. Pitts Welcomes 411 Inquiry From Telecom Leaders

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Pitts welcomes wireless 411 inquiry from telecom leaders
Congressman looks forward to reply from wireless companies at hearings; says his bill would protect consumers

Washington-Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) today praised Senate Commerce Chairman John McCain, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton and Energy and Commerce Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton for acknowledging the real privacy concerns presented by the development of a directory of mobile phone numbers.

The three chairmen yesterday wrote to executives at Nextel, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cingular, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless saying, "While presenting an opportunity for wireless telephone consumers, including subscribers without wireline phones and small business users, to make their telephone numbers more widely available to friends and to potential customers, this action also raises issues of wireless telephone number privacy that are of great interest to the American public and to Congress."

"This request for answers is timely as the industry moves towards implementing this database," said Congressman Pitts. "The fact that the three most prominent and respected leaders on telecom issues in Congress made the request underscores how serious a threat this could pose to consumer privacy.

"These are serious issues affecting the privacy of 160 million consumers. That's why we introduced legislation to address them. The wireless industry shouldn't be prohibited from making money or providing new services. But it shouldn't be allowed to walk over consumers' privacy either. A promise to protect privacy today is no guarantee of protection tomorrow. We need a law. If enacted, my legislation would put protections in place in case companies change their minds and break the promise they are making today.

"I look forward to hearing the response of these companies at upcoming congressional hearings," said Congressman Pitts.

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