A Month into Kari’s Law – Government Overreach or Killing Phone System Vendors?

A phone system killed a mother, not the actual man behind it or bad admin who misconfigured it. Or says the media.

A month into the signing of Kari’s Law by President Donald Trump, the question lies, why hasn’t anyone opposed this law?

In 2013, a Texas mother named Kari Hunt died from being murdered by her estranged husband in a motel. The daughter tried to call “9-1-1” but the number didn’t work because it was tied to a Multi Line Telephone System, where one has to dial a trunk access code to get to the outside world. MLTS can be a private branch exchange or a key telephone system (PBX and KTS respectively.) The mainstream media immediately jumped on the bandwagon that the PBX killed the mother, not some grossly incompetent PBX administrator, and not the murderer.

According to the Fox-owned affiliate, KRIV Houston, made a 5 second blurb in mid 2016, following a report on the mandatory Kari’s Law in Texas at the time, where he got 99 years of jail sentence as he pled guilty.

As time went on, nearly five years later, push to legislation, notably by conservatives pushed this law into a federal legislation in early 2018 to a sign by President Trump in February.

Followers to the industry that question Kari’s Law are very few, and those very few have questioned the legality.

Can the government tell a private business with a private telephone system what they can or cannot allow users to call? Can the government enable parties to sue civilly if there is a call cannot be place? Can a business be criminally prosecuted?  Can an intercom based system like the Aiphone be banned because the dialpad looks too much like a wireline, therefore giving the user an appearance of a telephone, therefore is that illegal? Worse, can this put a liability in the free market.

Some followers have stated that the bankruptcy of Avaya in early 2017 that emerged last fall and went public earlier in 2018 may not be the first “on site” phone system vendor, that dates back to the days of the early years of Western Electric, but others like Toshiba, the merger of Mitel and Shoretel.

The only company that may prosper due to Kari’s Law overreach are companies like Cisco which is continuing to raid enterprise voice and now going into the cloud and Polycom which is the default vendor for many “cloud phone systems” (that are really telephone companies that are providing services over IP.) They say that the cloud simplifies the process of adding lines, and users and location information, and the cloud providers have to comply with proper Enhanced 9-1-1 call routing. Because of the technical obsolete nature of the IT industry, business do not want to be risk of being used, and if that means surrendering a system that might be feature rich, then that’s the risk mitigation.

The man’s punishment is a bare infraction to the new law the enterprise telephone systems that ironically was pushed by “free market” pols.

There’s yet to be a reason why politicians were behind this and not private industries who some have set standards for emergency calling, especially for fabrication plants, etc. Analysts who didn’t want to be identified for the risk of loosing their reputation for this publication also state that some states have small PSAP sites, and erroneous dialing to 9-1-1 is the very same reason why there is an 8 or 9 before dialing out. They fear that states like North Carolina home to the 919 area code may result into accidental 9-1-1 calling because the user may forget another 9 when dialing out.

For the record, the murderer pled guilty and got 99 years of prison sentence. While the rest of the world of PBX or Multi Line Telephone Systems had to pay the ultimate punishment of requiring all systems to be at risk for errorinous calling by dialing 9-1-1 much easier. (Image via KRIV/Fox 26 Houston)

Even more concerning to telecom consultants is for the remote users, where their home address should be in the company’s telephone system so any user can dial 9-1-1 on a remote hard phone if someone works at home.

The law also neglects if Skype for consumers and other VOIP like providers should also interconnect their systems to the public network so it can dial 9-1-1.

There’s some believe that enterprise voice has been getting the injustice. No talk about domestic violence, and about the cruelty the monster did to Ms. Kari. But the narrative was the PBX killed her, and therefore all PBX systems are murders. And we need to punish everyone. As a result unintended consequences will result.

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