data protection

Civil society urges U.S. FCC to protect privacy

On October 19, Access Now joined a coalition of civil society organizations that filed comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the agency to uphold privacy protections.

The FCC protects the privacy of wireless and telephone customers through its regulations covering Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI). CPNI includes such personal information as who you call, for how long, and your location. The FCC requires that an officer at wireless and telephone providers, like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, to certify that the company complies with the CPNI privacy requirements, including that they seek customer consent before using data for non-service-related purposes.

“The FCC just finished taking significant enforcement action against the major wireless carriers for selling real-time location data to third parties, which ultimately made its way to bounty hunters,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “The agency is now trying to sneakily remove the CPNI certification requirement, which is the easiest and most straightforward way to hold companies accountable for violating their customers’ privacy. We oppose the FCC’s attempt to remove what little privacy protections are left.”

The COVID-19 crisis has made telecom privacy protections even more essential as people are more reliant than ever on phones. It would be highly inappropriate for the FCC to eliminate or weaken these valuable protections during the pandemic.