(April 28, 2005) -- LBReport.com has learned that the LB Alliance website, which invites visitors to use an "800" number to "Call your City Councilmember" -- although LB Councilmembers don't have "800" numbers -- may give the LB Alliance (or a firm acting on its behalf) the technical capability to collect and record the telephone numbers of callers automatically without seeking callers' explicit consent.
As LBReport.com first reported on April 26, the LB Alliance web site says in part: "MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: CALL YOUR CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AT 800-[phone number]."
Collecting a caller's telephone number on a political issue on which the caller already shares a supportive view would be valuable, enabling a campaign to subsequently contact the caller to communicate, motivate...or "get out the vote" in an election.
The CA Public Utilities Commission and two major CA telephone service carriers have independently told LBReport.com that 800 number service generally enables the party with the 800 number to see on its bill a list of incoming calls (since they're paying for them), capturing the phone numbers of those calling (and likely the date and time). CPUC said the best way to determine this in a specific case is to ask the party with the 800 service.
LBReport.com asked about the Alliance's use of the 800 number during Q & A at its April 27 press event. Calls to the Alliance's DC website management firm on April 28 were referred to a press representative of the Glover Park Group, the Alliance's DC-NYC media message management firm, who was present during the April 27 Q & A from which a salient transcript follows:
LBReport.com: On the website, there's an 800 number to send messages to City Council people. Why would it be an 800 number if not to collect the phone numbers of people calling?
Ms. Bynum: We're hoping that people will see that as an opportunity to have their voices heard with Council here in Long Beach, because that's part of the problem. Our issue has been that people that care about the airport haven't had an opportunity to have their voices heard We're providing mechanisms for them to do that, and we're already, I think, had people calling in, so we're looking forward to more of that.
LBReport.com: But my question, since you could easily link to the Councilmembers' telephone numbers or emails, why use an 800 number?
Mr. Castagna: So it doesn't cost the person calling it.
LBReport.com: It wouldn't cost the call for a Long Beach person to begin with...Since 800 numbers allow the person with the number to collect the phone numbers of people making the calls, what other reason would there be for using an 800 number?
[female voice]: To make it very easy for anyone to call who doesn't know how to get...
[second female voice, may be Ms. Bynum]: There's nothing nefarious going on here. What we're trying to do is give people a mechanism and an avenue for being able to easily contact their Councilpeople. We've talked to so many people in the last few weeks who have been calling us now, they say 'How can I get involved? What do I do,' so we're trying to make that kind of convenience for them so they can get a hold of their Councilpeople, they can go onto our website, they can find out information about the airport, and that's part of the issue. The issue is people can't get accurate information about the airport.