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Enhanced 911 (E911) is an initiative to ensure that mobile telephone users can obtain emergency services as easily as users of wireline telephones, are driving wireless telecommunications carriers to implement technologies that can locate a caller with significant precision.


E911 is

a more advanced version of the traditional 911 system, which merely routes an emergency call to the local PSAP, because it provides additional information about the caller: E911 systems route 911 calls through the use of a Selective Router to a geographically appropriate PSAP based on the caller's location. E911 also provides the call taker with the caller's call back number, referred to as Automatic Numbering Information (ANI), and, in many cases, location information — a capability referred to as Automatic Location Identification (ALI).[1]

Privacy concerns[]

Although the E911 requirements apply only to calls made from mobile telephones seeking emergency assistance, once that capability is available, many worry that such information will be collected and sold for other purposes, such as marketing. Some observers point out that wireless carriers may be motivated to sell such customer data to recoup the costs of deploying wireless E911.

One aspect of this concern is that companies could build profiles of consumers using data collected over a period of time. In that context, one question is whether limits should be set on the length of time location information can be retained. Some argue that once a 911 call has been completed, or after a subscriber to a location-based service received the desired information (such as directions to the nearest restaurant), that the location information should be deleted.

Spam concerns[]

A major concern is that if location information is available to commercial entities, a wireless customer walking or driving along the street may be deluged with unsolicited advertisements from nearby restaurants or stores alerting them to merchandise available in their establishments. Supporters of unsolicited advertising insist that consumers benefit from directed advertisements because they are more likely to offer products in which the consumer is interested. They also argue that advertising is protected by the First Amendment.


  1. E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers, First Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20 F.C.C.R. 10245, 10251 ¶13 (2005) (citations omitted).