Americana: On the Phone War Front

Reflecting a trend that New York Telephone Supervisor Edward C. Small calls "symptomatic and reflective of the society in which we live," 15% of all phone customers now have unlisted numbers, up from 8.5% ten years ago. One .reason is to escape annoying calls from such groups as pushy salespeople—peddling everything from insurance policies to vacation homes—and over-zealous charities. But the privacy invaders are beginning to fight back with a new weapon: an automated dialer and recorded-message player that can make up to 1,000 calls a day. Because the device blankets entire telephone exchanges—automatically dialing all the numbers, both listed...

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