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Telecommunications in this discussion refers to using a computer hooked into a telephone line or other data transmission system to communicate with others with compatible equipment, both individually and through networks. E-MAIL refers to when individuals send messages to each other using telecommunications for at least one leg of the message. E-Mail can be sent and received using a computer terminal, or sent using a computer terminal and received by the other person through the U.S. Mail or private delivery service in letter form. Those of us who are addicted to computers and telecommunications tend to forget that the vast majority of Americans think we are involved in some sort of cult in which they want no part. While every American is affected by telecommunications, only those who have studied some aspect of this phenomena, or who use it themselves, can fully appreciate the dimensions of the privacy problems posed by this new form of communication.

Senator Charles Mathias has the knack for discussing the issues of privacy and telecommunications in understandable terms - a must if we are to persuade a majority of Americans that new laws are needed. "Thanks to the microcomputer revolution, more and more of us are becoming computer users. The proliferation of the new information-processing technology in our homes, schools and offices raises a host of privacy and related questions. As more and more Americans become computer-literate, we make more and more use of a variety of new communications media. The computer- to-computer data connection supplements - or sometimes replaces - oral communication by telephone. "Cellular telephones, local-area networks, electronic mail - these and other new communications media are springing up everywhere. And individuals and businesses are making wide use of these new ways to share information. Some of the messages that these new media carry are highly sensitive. A transmission of the digital blips racing by wire, microwave, fiber optics and other paths could reveal proprietary corporate data, or personal medical or financial information."

Many people in new high technology-dependent jobs now utilize telecommunications in their day-to-day work, and many traditional occupations are rapidly discovering the importance of telecommunicating. The conundrum: What price the bill for privacy if telecommunications is the wave of the future? and it seems inevitable - if any doubts exist - that telecommunications is the wave of the future.

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