August 24, 1999
|Re:||Telecommunications Carriers' Use of Customer Proprietary Network Information and Other Customer Information (CC Docket Nos. 96-115, 96-98).|
Yesterday the Commission adopted rules implementing section 222(e) of the Telecommunications Act pertaining to subscriber list information. Regrettably, it has taken the Commission over three years to complete this rulemaking proceeding.
I write separately because, unlike the majority, I would have decided the issue regarding Internet databases that contain subscriber list information. Section 222(e) entitles directory publishers to obtain subscriber list information "for the purpose of publishing directories in any format." The majority seeks further comment on whether the phrase "directories in any format" encompasses Internet databases. To me, the statutory language is clear on this point - "in any format" necessarily includes directories published in an electronic format.(1) Indeed, at least one Bell company markets its Internet database containing subscriber list information as "The Real White Pages."(2) We are, after all, living in an electronic age. The Internet has increasingly become an important part of our everyday lives. By not deciding this issue -- particularly in light of the length of time that it has taken the Commission to complete this proceeding -- we postpone the day that competitive directory publishers (and, thus, Internet-savvy consumers) will reap the pro-competitive benefits envisioned by Congress.
1 See, e.g., Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 2335 (1997) (stating that "[a]ny person or organization with a computer connected to the Internet can 'publish' information").
2 See http://yp.bellsouth.com (stating that "[t]he Real White Pages was designed to provide greater efficiency through quick electronic directory searches and to eliminate the hassle associated with telephone directory distribution").