House considering legislation that could impact central stations

According to a statement released this week by the Electronic Security Association (formerly known as the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association), the House Communications, Technology and Internet sub-committee is considering two bills that could have an impact on the way central stations operate.

One of the bills, H.R. 3621, dubbed the “Call Center Consumer’s Right to Know Act,” would require the employee of a call center (defined in the legislation as a location that provides customer-based service and sales assistance or technical assistance and expertise) to divulge their physical location at the beginning of the phone call.

“I think (the bill) is a mistake because it is very important that our communication in emergency situations is very crisp, clear and concise. The requirement to add something that’s unnecessary like our location introduces an opportunity for confusion that in some cases could delay the arrival of emergency services,” said ADS Security President John Cerasuolo. “People in those situations are under stress and extraneous communication is not helpful at all.”

Cerasuolo added that there are also security concerns as it relates to disclosing the location of a central monitoring station, depending on how much detail the bill will eventually require.

The other bill, H.R. 3717, also called the “Kelsey Smith Act,” is intended to help facilitate coordination between first responders and cell phone carriers by requiring wireless telecom providers to more quickly respond to authorities request for information on persons who may be in immediate physical danger. The bill is named after Kelsey Smith, a Kansas teen who was murdered in 2007. According to published reports, Smith’s body was eventually found due to a cell phone ping, but it reportedly took the cell phone provider three days to turn over the records of her phone.

“H.R.3717 could have some immediate impact on customer abilities to connect to law enforcement, fire services, EMS and it also would have an impact on the mobile industry as it relates to our industry,” said John Chwat, director of government relations for ESA. “There have been concerns in the past as we transition from (traditional telephone) service to mobile service about the concerns on alarms and security devices.

According to Chwat, the ESA is working with several other industry associations to develop a position and take their concerns before Capitol Hill.