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Archived updates for Monday, September 12, 2005


According to Kevin Poulsen writing for on September 07, 2005, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission unceremoniously transferred control of the toll-free number "1-800-RED-CROSS" to the nonprofit group on Friday.

It's former owner, Steve Parker, Chairman of, says that he had acquired the phone number after founding a company called "Red Arms," which, by pure coincidence happens to share the same alphanumeric phone-pad translation as 8-0-0-R-E-D-C-R-O-S. Parker had begun charging local Red Cross chapters a per-minute fee to get calls originating from nearby calling areas. He claims to have had about half a dozen of the more than 1,000 local Red Cross chapters signed up for the service before losing the number.

"We make our living off of phone numbers that spell words," said Parker. "We've created companies like 1-800-FLY-CHEAP. We actually pioneered shared usage" of these toll-free numbers.

"They were talking about the kinds of money that changed hands for 1-800-FLOWERS, which is ridiculous," said Chuck Connor, senior vice president of communication and marketing for the American Red Cross. "We're not going to be paying seven figure sums to some West Coast boiler-room operation for a number we should have had in the first place."

Usufruct you, Mr. Parker!
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Anonymous Chris G. said...

On first glance this is, I'm sure, getting cheers from those who aren't really thinking about what has just happened here. To me, this is just another example of the government taking property from one person and handing it over to another, akin to emminent domain. The article doesn't even say if the previous owner is getting "just" compensation.

Because there are three letters that correspond to each number on the phone, the phone numbers can take on a number of meanings. This is a completely different situation from domain names.

I'm not sure if I will be able to sleep at night now knowing that the government is poised to take my property by eminent domain when Wal-mart wants my neighborhood, and then take my phone number away when it happens to correspond to 770-Wal-Mart.

September 12, 2005 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Red Cross may have been able to use the current political mood to finagle its way around the due process requirement. Then again, isn't that what a "state of emergency" ( is all about.

September 12, 2005 12:18 PM  
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October 01, 2005 5:33 PM  
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