Startup Phonebooks.com ditches nationwide cell phone directory

Florida startup Phonebooks.com said it will dismantle its cell phone directory a year after launching the effort. The company announced the move in a joint press release with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ).

"Phonebooks.com has been working with Verizon Wireless to take a joint stance in addressing consumer privacy," the company said in the release. "Until a utilitarian solution can be found, Phonebooks.com will no longer display information associated with phone numbers that were originally issued as a mobile phone number."

Phonebooks.com caused a stir last year when it announced plans to build a national directory of cell phone numbers. The company launched the effort with 2.4 million cell phone numbers, which the company said it obtained from both third-party data providers (which derive information from property records, contests and subscriptions) and user submissions.

"Even if a consumer's mobile number is obtained lawfully by Phonebooks.com, we believe that Verizon Wireless customers should have the opportunity to provide informed consent before it is published," said Steve Zipperstein, vice president of external affairs for Verizon Wireless. "We are pleased that the leadership team at Phonebooks.com agrees that the safety and privacy of all consumers is a high priority."

Phonebooks.com's failure to make headway with its directory likely signals the death knell of a nationwide directory of cell phone numbers. The cell phone industry and trade group CTIA in 2004 began a push the creation of a national directory of mobile phone numbers, but quickly backed down following criticism from privacy advocates. The issue has risen to the fore several times since then, though no movement has been made on a national level. 

A CTIA spokesperson said last year the trade group currently is not pursuing a cell phone directory.

For more:
- see this release

Related Articles:
A new push for a nationwide cell phone directory
Verizon Wireless: Directory still "dumb idea"

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