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Proposed solution for Google's "Click-to-Call" Caller-ID problem
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 07:24:39 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren () vortex com>
Date: November 19, 2006 12:26:55 PM EST
To: dave () farber net
Cc: lauren () vortex com
Subject: Proposed solution for Google's "Click-to-Call" Caller-ID problem


In http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000200.html I discussed my
concerns about Google's new "Click-to-Call" service, especially key
issues regarding Google's handling of caller-ID in this service.

Now I'd like to propose a specific solution.

I completely understand why Google likes their caller-ID feature.
It's a cute hack (hack in the positive sense), and in the context of
non-abusive use brings some value-added.  But I really believe that
this is one of those cases where somebody needed to get beyond the
"gee-whiz isn't this nifty" factor and consider more carefully how
it will be abused, particularly on the large free-access scale that
Google provides.  Even if the vast majority of the calls are legit,
the absolute number of abuses is bound to be high, and it seems
certain that innocents will be hurt in significant numbers -- there
are a lot of jerks in the world who are going to take advantage of
this service to get their jollies or take revenge on businesses that
they have a gripe with, etc.

However, there is indeed a simple solution in this case.  If the
caller-ID delivered to both sides of the bridged calls is set to
indicate the true source of the calls (i.e., Google) the problem
goes away.  In fact, caller-ID could be used to further enhance the
service by providing a true full point of contact.

What I would do is set the caller-ID to display a Google phone
number (ideally toll-free) that played a recorded announcement
explaining that the call originated from Google Click-to-Call, and
noting how to proceed (via a Web page, e-mail address, and/or
specific phone number) if you felt that you were being targeted for
abuse by a user of that system and wanted to file an associated
report.  This would be a win-win all around.  Google would more
rapidly get a handle on abusive users, and the service would be even
more consumer friendly.

Sometimes there can be a happy ending!

Lauren Weinstein
lauren () vortex com or lauren () pfir org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, IOIC
   - International Open Internet Coalition - http://www.ioic.net
Founder, CIFIP
   - California Initiative For Internet Privacy - http://www.cifip.org
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com

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