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House Of Representatives,
Subcommittee On Courts, Intellectual Property,

And The Administration Of Justice,

Committee On The Judiciary,

Washington, DC.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:20 a.m., in room
2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Robert W. Kastenmeier
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Robert W. Kastenmeier, Howard L.
Berman, William J. Hughes, Mike Synar, Carlos J. Moorhead,
Howard Coble, and D. French Slaughter, Jr.

Also present: Elizabeth R. Fine, counsel; Virginia E. Sloan, coun-
sel; Kathrine Urban, research assistant; and Joseph V. Wolfe,
minority counsel.


Mr. Kastenmeier. The committee will come to order.

The gentleman from Virginia.

Mr. Slaughter. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that
the subcommittee permit the meeting today to be covered, in whole
or in part, by television broadcast, radio broadcast, and/or still
photography, pursuant to rule 5 of the committee rules.

Mr. Kastenmeier. Without objection, that will be done.

This morning the subcommittee will consider H.R. 4340, the Tele-
phone Privacy Act of 1990. This is a bill which I introduced, along
with our colleagues Mike Synar and Don Edwards. It provides that
if a telephone company offers its customers Caller ID to register
the numbers of incoming callers, it must also offer those customers
a device to block transmission of the telephone numbers.

[The bill, H.R. 4340, follows:]

101st CONGRESS 2d Session

H. R. 4340

To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect the privacy of telephone users.


March 21, 1990

Mr. Kastenmeier (for himself, Mr. Synar, and Mr. Edwards of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect the privacy of telephone users.

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa

2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


4 This Act may be cited as the "Telephone Privacy Act of

5 1990".


7 (a) Exception To Pbohibition.—Section 3121 of

8 title 18, United States Code, is amended—


1 (1) in the heading for subsection (b), by inserting

2 "with Respect To Use By Provider" after "Ex

3 Ception";

4 (2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following:

5 "(c) Exception With Respect To Use Of Caller

6 Identification Systems.—The prohibition of subsection

7 (a) does not apply with respect to the use of a device that

8 allows the recipient of a telephone call to determine any indi

9 vidually identifying information about the caller or the origi

10 nating number (other than information voluntarily given by

11 the caller in the course of the communication) if the provider

12 enables any telephone call originator to block receipt of the

13 identifying information."; and

14 (3) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection

15 (d).

16 (b) Civil Liability.—Section 3121 of title 18, United

17 States Code, is further amended by adding at the end the

18 following:

19 "(e) Civil Action.—Any user of wire or electronic

20 communication service may, in a civil action, obtain relief

21 against any provider who directly or indirectly provides to

22 recipients of telephone calls the ability to determine individ

23 ually identifiable information, but fails to enable an originator

24 to block receipt of the originating number as required under

25 subsection (b)(3), in the same manner and to the same extent

» UK 4:1411 III


1 as a customer aggrieved by a violation of chapter 121 of this

2 title may, under section 2707 of this title, obtain relief

3 against the violator.".


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Mr. Kastenmeier. Caller ID appears to be a controversial issue across the country. There are apparently those who advocate Caller ID with blocking, those who favor Caller ID without blocking, and those who oppose Caller ID entirely. The trend among telephone companies appears to be in favor of some kind of blocking, although some companies strongly oppose this solution.

Caller ID is a fairly recent technology that has competing privacy implications. The task before this subcommittee is to try to balance the privacy rights of telephone call recipients with those of telephone callers.

Caller ID also implicates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. At my request, the American Law Division of the Library of Congress studied the issue of whether Caller ID is a trap and trace device and, therefore, prohibited by ECPA. The Library's conclusion was, in fact, that Caller ID appears to be prohibited by ECPA.

ECPA was the congressional response to the emergence of many new technologies that were not covered by the wiretap laws. Congress determined that it was important to recognize and encourage these new technologies. It also determined, however, that "privacy cannot be left to depend solely on physical protection or it will gradually erode as technology advances. Additional legal protection is necessary to ensure the continued vitality of the fourth amendment."

Today's hearing is therefore important in light of the fact that telephone companies around the country are offering Caller ID, and in light of this subcommittee's obligation to clarify the law and to review the privacy implications of this technology.

I regret that we could not hear from all of the interested parties on this issue. We, of course, welcome any written statements. But in light of the many pressures on the subcommittee and on the Congress as a whole as we move toward adjournment, we simply are not able to take the testimony of everyone who could have something to offer. I do look forward to today s hearing and the testimony of a variety of witnesses with differing perspectives.

Before we call on our first witness, I would like to yield to the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Slaughter.

Mr. Slaughter. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate having the opportunity to express my views regarding the Caller ID service which we are receiving testimony on today. This service is currently available in the Commonwealth of Virginia and has proved a measure of assistance to many citizens. While I welcome the variety of comments we are about to receive, I generally believe that a blocking option would diminish the effectiveness of Caller ID.

If people who want Caller ID cannot see who is calling, the service is less valuable, if an obscene caller or someone with violent intentions only has to touch two numbers to block Caller ID. What is the good of having Caller ID at all? In my view, the instances in which a caller legitimately needs to prevent someone from knowing who is calling can be worked out without curtailing the benefits of Caller ID.

Caller ID is currently available without blocking in Virginia and we do not seem to have any problems with the program. In fact, I understand that in less than a year Caller ID has over 15,000 sub

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