01 September 1997

A CD-ROM containing the names, addresses and phone numbers of almost everyone in the UK has been launched by the US-owned i-CD group [no connection with lifestyle survey specialist ICD Marketing Services]. At only £19.95 the new product, cuts the ground from beneath BT’s PhoneDisk priced at £200, and a no-holds-barred ‘spin’ war has been declared against the upstart competitor. The counter-offensive is directed at i-CD’s higher-ticket version of the disk (£169) which offers a reverse-search facility, enabling users to discover the names and addresses at which some 42 million telephone numbers are located. BT, ever-vigilant guardian of consumer interests, protests: 'The public have constantly said they do not want this system. If you phone an insurance company for a quotation, you don’t want a salesman turning up at your door.' The Guardian story also alleges that [unnamed] consumer groups are ‘concerned’ about the disk as, purportedly, is the Data Protection Registrar. It also reports that i-CD is promoting its reverse-search CD-Rom on the Internet, asserting that 'the public’s response has been overwhelmingly negative'. [How would The Guardian know? Only i-CD is privy to sales information from its Web site which, if so negative, it is unlikely to reveal to an outside source. Debrief suspects a hefty dose of BT-inspired spin-doctoring in best Mandelsonian tradition!]