Protecting Customer Privacy a Key Element of Bell Atlantic's Customer Care Focus

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Protecting Customer Privacy a Key Element of Bell Atlantic's
Customer Care Focus

Our Lips Are Sealed

July 27, 1998


Mark Marchand ,

NEW YORK -- In one of this summer's hottest movies, the main character
learns that his entire life has been on public view. That's a Hollywood
fantasy, for sure, but it's also a sign of the times. The erosion of privacy is
a growing concern for all Americans.

Recognizing that concern, Bell Atlantic (NYSE:BEL) has reinforced its
commitment to protecting sensitive customer information by making
privacy an essential part of the company's emphasis on customer care. Bell
Atlantic's focus on customer care is aimed at satisfying and delighting
customers every time they interact with the company.

"Protecting customer privacy is nothing new to us, but it is more important
now than ever," said Shelley Harms, Bell Atlantic executive director for
public policy and privacy. "Making it part of customer care ensures that
privacy is considered every single time we work with a customer or a
customer's information."

Bell Atlantic recently established specific privacy principles to ensure
protection of customers' privacy in an era of rapidly changing
communications technology and applications. Those principles are now
listed on the company's Web site ( Also,
information on privacy matters is contained in a new booklet the company
will offer to consumers.

Examples of Bell Atlantic's privacy principles include:

  • Mandatory review of new products before they are marketed, to
    determine if there are any privacy implications.

  • Specific employee training geared to protecting customer

  • Customer information is requested only to the extent necessary to
    provide customer service, and it's only used for business purposes.

  • Customers' names can be removed from Bell Atlantic marketing
    lists, upon request, if customers do not want to receive new
    product or other marketing information from the company.

Bell Atlantic also has been a leader in on-line privacy, and in June became a
founding member of the national On-Line Privacy Alliance. More than 50
partners in this new effort share a commitment to responsible on-line
privacy practices and have developed principles for companies to follow to
help protect customers' privacy on-line. The alliance was established at the
time a Federal Trade Commission audit found that many companies were
unwilling to tell users about privacy on-line.

"We're committed to creating an environment of trust on-line and fostering
the protection of individuals' privacy in electronic commerce," said Harms.

Harms noted that Bell Atlantic would soon join another national on-line
effort called TRUSTe. Web sites that display the TRUSTe mark have to
meet strict privacy criteria backed by TRUSTe's third-party oversight and
complaint resolution process.

Editor's Note: Shelley Harms of Bell Atlantic is available for news media
interviews on privacy. She has spoken and testified on the subject before
several national and regional forums over the past year. Also, reporters
can contact TRUSTe by calling: Susan Scott, executive director, on (650)

Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX --
is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry.
With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than seven
million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier
providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in
wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest
investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations
and investments in 23 countries.

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