September 3, 2004
Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Support AB 1733 — Opt-In Wireless 411 Directory
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
On behalf of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, we write to ask for your support of AB 1733, legislation that would ensure Californians control whether their cell phone numbers are listed in a “411” directory database.
Some California cell phone customers will welcome the directory while many others will choose to keep their cell phone numbers private. Consumers themselves should control whether their numbers are listed, and requiring written affirmative consent is the best way to do that. AB 1733 also ensures that consumers who wish to keep their cell phone number private will not be hit with new add-on monthly fees to remain “unlisted.”
The cell phone industry has publicly promised to protect consumer privacy. However, promises made today can be easily changed or broken. AB 1733 is consistent with the industry’s stated intent to protect consumer privacy, and ensures the public that these protections will be long-standing.
Controlling whether their cell phone numbers are listed is also an economic issue for consumers. Most cell phone plans require the customer to pay for incoming calls and text messages. Unwanted calls could increase dramatically once a number is listed in the directory. AB 1733’s requirement of express written consent that is not hidden in the cell phone contract, is key to preventing a flood of unwanted and costly calls to cell phones.
Consumers who have contacted Consumers Union are overwhelmingly in support of a law ensuring consumer control over the listing of cell phone numbers and prohibiting new directory-related fees. We are pleased that AB 1733 mandates the opt-in approach for both new and existing customers. AB 1733 also prohibits charging customers an extra fee for deciding not to be included in a Wireless 411 Directory.
We urge you to sign this important consumer protection and privacy measure into law.
Senior Policy Analyst
cc: Assembly Member Sarah Reyes
Richard Costigan, Legislative Secretary