Concern voiced at 'Magic Call' service
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-28 05:44
NANJING: A "Magic Call" service that enables speakers to change their voice
has attracted thousands of customers in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu
Province, since its launch earlier this year.
The scheme by Nanjing Telecom Company Limited costs 6 yuan (75 US cents) per
month, and users can use different numbered keys on their telephone to change
their voice while speaking.
It features eight types of voices of different aged men and women.
According to Sheng Fang, a secretary at Nanjing Telecom's general office,
more than 6,300 customers have registered to the service since it began on
January 1, and the number has been increasing steadily as more customers begin
to learn about it.
Subscribers claim the service plays a positive role in protecting people's
privacy if they want to tell things in confidence to public hotlines.
But among the eight voices is "midnight blackmail," which some listeners
claim sounds disturbing.
Legal experts have raised concern at the ability for people to change their
"By using this service, the verbal identification process in our case
investigations will become greatly challenged. It will brings serious problems
to our work," said Liu Zhengcao, a lawyer from the Nanjing-based Contemporary
Security Law Firm.
But Sheng, from Nanjing Telecom, said that as all the users' information has
been recorded in the company's system, including the times calls are made, it
would not pose any security problems.
The majority of the users are trendy youngsters, said Sheng.
"It is so funny, the receiver spends a long time guessing who the speaker
is," said He Sha, a 23-year-old university student in Nanjing who recently
subscribed to the service.
"You can pretend to be someone else to make fun of them."
But her mother is not so pleased with the service.
She said:"When I called my daughter last week, a middle-aged sounding man
answered the phone. Although I was told later by my daughter what it actually
was, I really don't want this kind of joke to happen to me again."
Similar services have also reportedly been set up by telecom operators in
several major provinces and municipalities in the country, including Beijing and
They charge either by taking in monthly subscription fees or calls per
"The new service is expected to bring big profits to those communication
operators. But as it encounters questions by society over recognition problems
and its target customers are really limited, its future market still remains
unclear," according to a market analyst.
(China Daily 02/28/2006 page3)