2 Federal Bills May Increase Central Stations Duties

WASHINGTON

Two bills now circulating in Congress would impose additional requirements on central stations that industry lobbyists say may curtail emergency response.

The House Communications, Technology and Internet subcommittee is now considering the bills, according to a statement from the Electronic Security Association (ESA), formerly known as the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.

Known as the “Call Center Customer’s Right to Know,” H.R. 3621 would require an employee of a call center to divulge their physical location at the beginning of the phone call. The legislation defines a call center as a location that provides customer-based service and sales assistance or technical assistance and expertise.

Security industry officials say the bill would create an unnecessary requirement that could create confusion that in some cases would delay emergency services.

“On its face, it would seem to be a bill aimed at corporations outsourcing calls from India and around the world, but it is too sweeping that it could delay emergency response,” says John Chwat, director of government relations for ESA. “There are many problems with that bill.”

The second bill, H.R. 3717, has been dubbed the “Kelsey Smith Act” and is named after the Kansas teen who was murdered in 2007. The regulation is intended to help facilitate communication between first responders and cell phone carriers by requiring wireless telecom providers to more quickly respond to authorities request for information on people who may be in immediate physical danger. Smith’s body was found using a cell phone ping, but it reportedly took the provider three days to turn over her phone records.

H.R. 3717 could affect customer abilities to connect to law enforcement, fire services and EMS, Chwat said.

Industry leaders on the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) that meets regularly in D.C. are developing a position on the bills to bring to Capitol Hill. The committee is made up of representatives from manufacturers such as Honeywell and Tyco, as well as alarm associations.

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