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Raiche, Holly --- "CND trial results in uncertainty" [1994] PrivLawPRpr 100; (1994) 1(7) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 126

CND trial results in uncertainty

Holly Raiche

With the Wauchope trial of Calling Number Display (CND)[1] over, the preliminary results of the trial research give some cause for concern. While many Wauchope residents using the technology were better able to manage their telephone service, a significant number of people, even at the trial's end, were not fully aware of the implications of using the technology.

The genesis of the Wauchope trial was AUSTEL's report on telecommunications privacy which recommended that Telecom conduct a trial of CND which could inform debate on the terms and conditions under which CND service might be introduced.[2]

As part of the four-month trial (running from late March to late July), Telecom commissioned independent research with a number of objectives. The objectives included an assessment of the community consultative processes and the public education campaign; Wauchope residents' views of privacy and security in relation to CND; and the ways in which CND technology impacted on the trial participants' use of the telephone.

Trial participants were split into four groups: the send-only group (their number was sent when they made calls in the local area); the send-and- receive group (who both sent their number and had a terminal to view the receiving number of local calls); the line-block group (non-participants whose number was not sent and did not have a terminal); and the receive only group (who had a terminal but did not send their numbers).

The groups were further divided into residential and business participants. Business participants who had a terminal also had software allowing them to match the telephone number calling with the address and subscriber name of that calling number. All business participants who had a terminal and software were also given a Code of Practice (which was hand delivered) to ensure any information obtained from CND was used, accessed and stored in accordance with privacy principles.

The research showed that, by the end of the trial, there was a very high awareness that the trial was taking place. However, awareness does not equate with understanding the implications of CND. By the end of the trial, the research showed that 26 per cent of residential users of the send-only group were still unaware their phone was sending their telephone number. Further, in the send-only group, only 64 per cent of the send-only participants were aware of the per call block option at the end of the trial, although that figure rose to 94 per cent for those in the send-and-receive group.

In spite of Telecom's extensive publicity, only 77 per cent of residents and 58 per cent of businesses knew they could change their group status during the trial. Even more worrying, only 22 per cent of businesses were aware at the trial's end of the Code of Practice.

The research also recorded a positive reaction to the use of CND, which was highest for the send-and-receive group. When asked about future scenarios for CND, both business and residential participants showed strong interest in applications which would increase their call management ability. What is not clear from the preliminary research, however, is the extent to which CND services alone can offer the advantages of better telephone management, or whether other telecommunications technologies could offer many of the same benefits without having the number of the calling party displayed.

Even though the research results are still in a preliminary stage, some conclusions can be drawn. The most important is that, while people can register awareness of a CND trial or service introduction, getting people to fully understand the implications of CND in forwarding their number is a far more difficult task and was not achieved in Wauchope for a significant number of people, even after four months of the trial. The other major finding was the very low awareness by businesses of the Code of Practice on using information gained through CND. Translate the experience of a small community such as Wauchope to large urban areas, and the possibility of business misuse of CND information is of real concern.

Will CND be introduced as a service available to the public? The quick answer is not just yet. AUSTEL approval is needed before CND services could be made publicly available and AUSTEL would want to see the final trial research results before decisions are made. A privacy committee under AUSTEL has also been announced by the Minister and, presumably, it is that committee which would make recommendations to AUSTEL on what terms CND should be offered to the public. Hopefully, the lessons of the trial research will be taken on board before final decisions on CND are made

[1] Calling Number Display enables the receiver of a telephone call to view the telephone number of the calling telephone.

[2] AUSTEL, Telecommunications Privacy, December, 1992, pp 94-95.

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