The cost of consumer privacy

I recently signed up for phone service, this time with Verizon/GTE, and like my PacBell line in the bay area, they wanted to charge me for not listing my phone number in all their directories. I could argue that consumer privacy isn’t a special privilege and that the whole idea is preposterous that I need to pay them not to sell my name, number, and address to anyone that wants it, but PacBell/SBC charged a negligible 26 cents a month. I wonder if such a low charge even recoups the accounting costs, but it seemed like such a ridiculous amount I paid it without protest. Verizon, however, charges five times as much at $1.25 a month. Fifteen bucks a year to maintain my own privacy is no longer a negligible amount.

Years ago, phone companies developed business models where they would sell space in white and yellow pages, and eventually the complete listings to telemarketers and other companies. If I don’t want to take part, I have to pay to make up the difference they could be making by selling my info. I can’t think of any other business where this is acceptable, but it seems pretty messed up.