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Directory shuts after complaints

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Associated Press / February 5, 2008

NEW YORK - Intelius Inc., a start-up that launched online directory assistance for cellphone numbers, has shut down the service after complaints from consumers and Verizon Wireless.

Intelius had 90 million numbers in its database, according to its website, and was selling them for $15 each to anyone who had a name and wanted a number.

The company said Friday it has discontinued the directory service due to "consumer feedback." Several TV stations and MSNBC.com publicized the directory last week.

Verizon Wireless called on Intelius last Tuesday to stop sales.

"This is a violation of Americans' privacy. People expect their cellphone numbers to remain private," Steve Zipperstein, Verizon Wireless' general counsel, said in a statement.

Intelius still operates a reverse cellphone lookup, which reveals the name of the subscriber for a given number. Several other websites offer the same service. Intelius also conducts background checks and people searches and sells records on property.

The cellular industry organization CTIA - The Wireless Association tried to create a cellphone directory, but ended the effort a few years ago after opposition from consumers and legislators.

Liz Murray, communications manager at Intelius, said the Bellevue, Wash., company had developed the directory it is now shuttering because people are increasingly abandoning land lines in favor of cellphones.

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