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A Number For Everything 598

jtcampbell writes: "Whilst reading the Times today I found this article about a U.S. government idea to give everyone a unique 'ENUM,' that serves as a universal phone number, email address, and fax number. Quite a cool idea, but will everyone adopt the standard? besides, i thought we left numeric email addresses with compuserve a few years back. And remembering these 11 digit numbers could be fun ..."
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A Number For Everything

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  • by Agent Green ( 231202 ) on Monday September 03, 2001 @09:07PM (#2249393)
    Looks like something to replace the SSN, actually...and a _lot_ of damage can be done if that falls into the wrong person's hands. "Can I have your phone number?" Eeek.

    Speaking of which, I don't think SSNs can be replaced if stolen...maybe if you're in the Witness Protection Program...
  • IPV6 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by frleong ( 241095 ) on Monday September 03, 2001 @09:20PM (#2249434)
    I think that the US government should give everyone an IPV6 address and distribute the addresses via smartcards (or any memory device that can store it properly). It's a great way to mass introduce this new technology. Then, watch for new applications (malicious or not) derived from this unique ID.
  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday September 03, 2001 @09:22PM (#2249450)
    This idea really sucks for phone numbers and email addresses, but what about your home address?

    I've long wished that the postal system would assign everyone a unique number, and if someone wanted to send you something, they'd address it to that number instead of some street address. The mail is already routed by computers, so it'd be easy for those computers to look up that number, correllate it to your current physical address, and send it there.

    This would really be helpful if you move a lot. Right now, you have to file a change of address form, which isn't completely reliable, and that only lasts a few months. After that, if someone hasn't been informed of your new address, it'll go to your old address. There's just no excuse for this any more.
  • by Squeeze Truck ( 2971 ) <> on Monday September 03, 2001 @09:25PM (#2249461) Homepage
    16: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

    17: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    18: Here is wisdom, Let him that have understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (666)

    Someone was going to post this eventually.

    There goes all my karma :)
  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Monday September 03, 2001 @09:31PM (#2249475)
    I had mine replaced/reassigned when I proved beyond any trace of doubt that "my" number had been assigned to someone else who was about my age born a few towns away. It was a completely bizarre situation, because I actually was casual acquaintances with the person.

    Basically the government officals I dealt with were mostly saying: "it cant be a duplicate- you must have stolen his or vice-versa.. double check your number with your original card..".

    After *months* of that, I simply got him to come with me to a main office of the SSA and went to the person who could authorize it, and forced him to look at the disparity. Even then he was hesitant, and had to call his superiors to find an answer.

    The main problem was apparently that most of the systems that I had given my SSN to over the year (government systems, that is) are hard-coded to accept SSN's as the primary key, and that changing it requires going in by hand and sorting out the good and bad keys manually. It tooks several months, but basically things are normal.

    EXCEPT for the hundreds of places that have my old SSN on record, and now need to change them. Try telling your bank that your SSN has changed - it will mess their entire world up.
  • by chipuni ( 156625 ) on Monday September 03, 2001 @09:42PM (#2249507) Homepage
    I can see it now... when someone wants directions to my house, I just tell them that it's at 53279153631. Then hang up.

    All of the problems that programmers have with pointers would immediately jump into the real world.
  • by marcelvdb ( 519274 ) <[marcel] [at] []> on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @05:17AM (#2250642) Homepage
    Why not extending our current scheme?

    The email system uses the @ (at) sign to designate people "at" a certain logical location
    [john.doe AT]

    why not extend this with or

    [John Doe AT BY phone]
    [John Doe AT BY fax]

    We have to figure out a convenient character for the "BY" part. I would certainly welcome this scheme and it seems pretty straighforward to integrate in the current scheme of communication.
  • Over my dead body (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @05:56AM (#2250705)
    From the last several years of reading Slashdot & various odds and ends on the internet, I've seen the slow & deliberate push towards an international police & corporate state.
    This is the single most sinister thing I have ever seen proposed. This is worse than Echelon.

    I will never accept this evil system conceived by intelligence agencies and big business. It's purpose is to make our communications monitorable, and to clear the way for easier corporate communicative access to us. They want to take our anonity away from us. Intelligence services want to monitor enemies of the state, such as environmentalists.

    Before you call me a conspiricy theorist, consider this - every message posted to this website would be _tracable_to_its_sender_.
    It is not necessary the action of persocuting freedom of speech that stops it, but the perception of threat. Singapore for example.
    Oh, and anybody who thinks intelligence services and big business can be trusted with this sort of power over us, ought to read up on them. They are serious sickos.

    Cherish freedom while you still can, because in 10 years from now I couldn't post this message without my name going on a list. If that's not sinister, I don't know what is.
  • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @07:39AM (#2250828)
    To further this, there are already restrictions on sending unsolicited faxes, there are public registries which can be used to prevent unwanted solicitations over the phone, and theoretically someone who requests to be removed from a UCE list has to be.

    So additional legislation in this area is largely unnecessary-- not to mention that I personally agree with it being a free speech issue. It's a hard line to draw. If we make a rule like "your email cannot contain a specific offer to sell something" then spammers will just be creative and use words that get around any sale offers. At some point on the grey scale, you get to where your friend can't send you an email invitation to go out to lunch because that is a commercial activity involving buying stuff.

    I put this sort of legislation (anti-spam) in the same category as COPA and the DMCA. Too hard to be Constitutional to even bother with. What we don't need is more complex laws.

    We need to educate users on email filtering and get them to realize that replying or even reading obvious spam are bad ideas (and thanks to Outlook all they have to do is open the email to be tagged as having read the email-- and if they click on a link in the email, they are being tracked as though the email were just another webpage). Spam must be useful to spammers because the public is not equipped to make it irrelevant. But, of course, those idiots from "Campus Crusade for Christ" are always on the street corners yelling or passing out their endless stream of tracts despite no result, too-- so maybe it's just one of those things we have to deal with.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982