Verizon has agreed to pay a settlement of $7.4 million to the Federal Communications Commission for allegations of neglecting to provide opt out notices to customers before collecting personal information. Some 2 million users were not notified of the opt-out option while their information was used for marketing. The FCC claims that beginning in 2006 Verizon failed to inform users of their phone services of their right to limit the information they provide to Verizon.
Verizon discovered the oversight in 2012 and by March 2013 Verizon claims to have sent opt-out notices to the customers affected by the oversight. Verizon also says they have halted all marketing to those who had not previously received the notice and did not share customers’ information with any third parties. The FCC released a statement condemning the telecom company’s actions.
It is plainly unacceptable for any phone company to use its customers’ personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement.
This settlement is a big victory for the FCC, setting the record for the largest settlement won by the agency in a telephone privacy related case. The settlement follows a battle that raged in court between the FCC and Verizon earlier this year over net neutrality in the US Court of Appeals. The court ruled in favor of Verizon, reprimanding the FCC for overreaching its authority.
The series of court cases between regulatory agencies and major corporations are proving formative in the ongoing development of privacy and usage laws. While the tug of war continues, what was once an undefined playing field becomes a more tangible set of rules for government agencies, telecom companies, and consumers.
Read more here- “Verizon Settles FCC Consumer Privacy Investigation,” (Grant Gross, PC World)