The Department of Trade and Industry in the UK is considering a public database that will link IP numbers to phone numbers. ENUM will be a searchable database of an individual’s domain names, email addresses, IM identities and telephone numbers.
Stephen Timms, Minister of State for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (now that’s a portfolio of three entirely unrelated remits if ever I saw one), said “ENUM is a system that links telephone numbers to Internet names and destinations, increasing the flexibility of electronic communications. It is one of a number of developments that will allow us to operate more easily and effectively in the converging worlds of telecommunications and the Internet. The UK has been one of the foremost players in developing the ENUM concept and the Government wishes to continue to stimulate further development in this area.”
ENUM would enable users to access internet services from a telephone, and vice versa. All telephone numbers would essentially become like IP numbers.
Voice over IP services will benefit greatly from a service like ENUM, but some analysts are concerned about individuals’ privacy. The DTI recognise this from the outset: “ENUM may become an important element in the process of convergence between the traditional telecommunications world and the Internet world. The arrangements for ENUM necessarily include at least one unique registry function and therefore particular care needs to be taken to prevent abuse. The proposed arrangements have been defined by an open group of interested UK parties. DTI is seeking confirmation that the arrangements meet the needs of an open competitive market and adequately protect the interest of all participants and safeguard the public interest.”