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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Page 33
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Page 33

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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B9 Thursday, May 31. 1990 The Pittsburgh Press STATEREGIONAL Family Research Project Earn $300 Caller ID rejection may set new tone By Don Wolf ITha PitUburfh Press HARRISBURG A Commonwealth Court decision blocking Bell CEDAR needs 1.000 families for its research program. To qualify, families must include a father either with or without a drug abuse problem have a son who is 10. 11. or 12 years old meet other criteria Call 622-6174.

All calls are confidential. CENTER FOR EDUCATION AND DKL'G ABUSE RESEARCH of Pennsylvania's caller identification option could spell trouble for similar services around the country. The court yesterday said Caller ID violates the state's wiretap law and constitutional privacy rights. "It's foing to be precedent-setting because it's the first time any court has ruled on this anywhere in the United States," said Daniel Gear-field, senior assistant state con the telephone number from which a call is made. The screening unit would cost $70 to 180.

Advocates said Caller ID would enhance the ability of Law enforcement and public safety agencies to respond to life-threatening situations while deterring obscene and nuisance calls, bomb threats and false alarms. Opponents argued it violated privacy rights and posed a danger to people, such as battered wives and confidential police informants, who wished to keep their whereabouts or identities unknown. They also warned that Caller ID would render meaningless unpublished telephone numbers and could lead to an increase in telemarketing and junk mail. Clearfield said six states West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia. Tennessee and Vermont all have Caller ID without any blocking capabilities.

Caller ID will soon be starting in Florida and is operating on a trial basis in Rochester, N.Y, where blocking options are offered, he said. Clearfield said few if any public hearings were held on Caller ID in those states. He said the Caller ID programs either were not challenged in the courts or the courts have yet to rule on the actions. In Ohio, Ohio Bell, the state's largest telephone company, wants to give residential and small-business customers the ability to identify the number of incoming callers. The proposal has triggered heated debate, just like it did in Pennsylvania.

The District of Columbia and North Carolina also plan hearings on Caller ID, Clearfield said. sumer advocate. "It will have effects on proceedings around the country." Clearfield, a telecommunications In Press Post-Gazette classifieds today SOLD tomorrow! Call 263-1201 specialist, said Pennsylvania was the first state to conduct a full set of hearings and a court review of the controversial service. The Caller ID option would enable subscribers to view on a special sible to restore." By effectively outlawing Caller ID in Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Court went far beyond what either proponents or foes had expected. Clearfield said the consumer advocate's office, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Consumer Education and Protective Association were willing to accept Caller ID provided all customers had the ability to block, with a special three-digit code, the transmission and display of their phone numbers.

They were not, however, disappointed by the ruling. "We're gratified that the interest of consumers in protecting and controlling their own personal information that is, their telephone numbers has been vindicated," Clearfield said. A five-judge panel of Commonwealth Court found that Caller ID violates the state's wiretap law, which prohibits anyone from intercepting or capturing telecommunications or electronic impulses that identify the originating number of the calling phone without a court order. Three of the judges also concluded the plan violates the constitutional rights of privacy and due process. Judges Dan Pellegrini and Bernard McGinley dissented on that finding because the courts "should not decide constitutional issues in cases which can properly be decided on nonconstitutional grounds," wrote Pellegrini, who concurred in the final order.

Judge Doris A. Smith, writing for the majority of the panel, said, "This court concludes that Caller ID, either in its blockable or unblockable format, violates the privacy rights of the people of Pennsylvania. "In the framework of a democratic society, the privacy rights concept is much too fundamental to be compromised or abridged by permitting Caller ID," she said. "Consumers of telephone service should not suffer an invasion, erosion or deprivation of their privacy rights to protect the unascertainable number of individuals or groups who receive nuisance, obscene or annoying telephone calls which can already be traced or otherwise dealt with by existing services provided by Bell," she said. Under the Caller ID option, a' customer subscribing to the 6.50 per month service would be able to view on a special screening device (3D ullHd WE ARE AMERICA'S ONE-STOP PHONE STORE! HUNDREDS OF ITEMS FOR YOUR COMMUNICATIONS NEEDS! screening device the telephone numbers of people calling them.

The Commonwealth Court ruling reverses a November order of the Public Utility Commission allowing Bell to implement a Caller ID plan with protections for confidential calls from law enforcement agencies and domestic violence intervention centers. Bell was prepared to offer the service immediately in the Philadel- fhia and Harrisburg areas, but the UC decision was stayed by an earlier Commonwealth Court order. Bell had planned to offer Caller ID in the Pittsburgh area next year. Bell officials said they were "extremely disappointed" by the court's decision to block the system, but had not decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court "This ruling is a blow to the people of the commonwealth," said Bill Harral, Bell's vice president for external affairs. "Because of this decision, Penn-sylvanians are being denied a service they eagerly want and badly need a weapon against unwanted, harassing, threatening or obscene calls," he said.

Joseph Rhodes the only PUC member who voted against the Caller ID plan, interpreted the ruling differently. "This is great news for the people of Pennsylvania," said Rhodes, who helped write the state's electronic surveillance law when he was a legislator. "Privacy is one of those precious commodities that is very easy to destroy and virtually impos MB! 1111 I Ulllll Beeperless-Remote Two-Line Answerer The Classic Look Of Wood FashionFone By Radio Shack TAD-330 By DU6FONE Save $40 33o Off Reg. 139.95 Reg. 59.95 9995 VII 43-39 43-397 3995 ToneDull Tonepulse I a tic Month.

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279-307. workers in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. It also spurred up to 46,000 miners to stage sympathy strikes across the country last June. Blankenship, 46, said he has fallen out of favor with the union's top officials, including union President Richard Trumka, because he doesn't follow them blindly. "I don't kiss up after the international or district," he told the Charleston Daily Mail.

"If you're not in the clique, they don't have much use for you." Marty Hudson, a union organizer who led the Pittston strike, said benefits are on the way but have been delayed while the union tries to get Pittston to foot the bill. Blankenship said he has been unable to return to the coal mines. He said doctors have, however, cleared him to be a field representative, whose main duties are grievances and paperwork. Blankenship said he isn't worried about being disciplined by the union for violating its code of loyalty. "I don't care what they do," he said.

"They can't do anything more than they've already done." Six employees of a Massey contractor have been charged with attempted murder in Blankenship's shooting. The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments that their cases should be dismissed because of lack of evidence and pretrial errors. CHARLESTON. W.Va. (AP) A veteran United Mine Workers member shot last August while on strike against the Pittston Co.

says he's bitter over the union's response to his plight. But union miners who weren't identified by the Charleston Daily Mail said Roy Blankenship is grandstanding for an upcoming election for field representative of the union's Logan subdistrict. Blankenship, who receives $225 in union benefits a week, denies those allegations. "They know you can't raise a family on (450 every two weeks," he said. The Amherstdale resident has a wife and his daughter is in college.

"The international was supposed to help me, but it hasn't done anything," he said. "I believe this is the worst administration we've had in my 25 years in the union." Blankenship's right arm was paralyzed when he was shot during a weeklong dispute between the UMW and A.T. Massey Coal Co. last August in Logan County's Slab Fork Hollow. Blankenship, vice president of Local 1971 in Logan County, had joined other Pittston workers to protest at a Massey facility.

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