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INTERNET WORLD NEWS, March 08, 2000

From: Kathleen Anderson <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 08:24:21 -0500
Message-ID: <03e601bf89ca$c879fc60$e924f79f@STATE.CT.US>
To: <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Internet World News did some education and outreach yesterday -- see the
last paragraph of this story:

<snip>
> INTERNET WORLD NEWS
> Wednesday, March 8, 2000
> Vol. 2  Issue 46
> http://www.internetworldnews.com
<snip>
 ------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Sprint's Wireless Web Service Discloses Users' Phone Numbers
>
> By Nate Zelnick
>
> Sprint PCS ( http://www.sprintpcs.com ) is the
> latest company to enter the Internet's "Consumer Privacy
> Hall of Shame," joining such illustrious past winners as
> DoubleClick (for stealthy user tracking) and Intel (for
> embedding unique IDs in each Pentium III).
>
> Sprint, according to Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle,
> took a shortcut when it set up its browse-via-Web-enabled-cell-phone
> service that appends the phone number of the cell phone
> being used to every page request. The company gets bonus points
> for its blase response, which was an attempt to downplay the
> problem with a statement that lots of people give away data on the
> Web all the time, so what's the big deal? Spokesman Tom Murphy also
> pointed out that the company stated clearly (on page 7 of the
> 13-page service agreement) that it was doing this, so
> consumers were forewarned.
>
> The shortcut Sprint took is really a byproduct of how cell
> phones using the Phone.com microbrowser get around the
> problem that few Web pages are displayable on the tiny
> screens of tiny phones. Phone.com's workaround requires that
> a unique identifier be appended to each HTTP request so the
> gateway transforming a page into a more phone-friendly form
> can separate those requests from others coming from more
> robust browsers. Sprint engineers realized that all phones
> already have a unique identifier -- the phone number itself --
> so they didn't have to create a new one.
>
> Unfortunately, this is a truly terrible idea. Not only does
> appending the cell phone number break the basic expectation
> of anonymity most users have when browsing -- in an even more
> egregious fashion than DoubleClick's now-on-hold plan to link
> offline marketing databases and online usage information --
> it lets marketers call or send short text messages directly
> to consumers using a network that makes the receiver pay for
> the call.
>
> Sprint should assign another unique ID, of course, and
> should do so in a double-blind system in which even Sprint
> can't trace the second ID back to a specific individual. But
> more important, Sprint, Phone.com, and every other player in
> the emerging device field should relentlessly pursue an
> education program that encourages Web designers, toolmakers,
> and businesses to build sites according to the W3C's
> ( http://www.w3.org ) XHTML specification. Plus
> these players should demand adoption of the media-dependent
> style sheet portion of the Cascading Style Sheet 2.0
> recommendation. Widespread adoption of these two standards
> will enable these sites to serve any kind of device without
> having to use kludges like the Phone.com ID solution.
> ------------------------------------------------------------



Kathleen Anderson, Webmaster
State of Connecticut
Office of the State Comptroller
55 Elm Street, Room 101
Hartford, Connecticut  06106
voice: (860) 702-3355  fax: (860) 702-3634
email: kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us
URL: http://www.osc.state.ct.us
CMAC Access: http://www.cmac.state.ct.us/access
Received on Thursday, 9 March 2000 08:24:36 GMT

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