Today, Public Knowledge filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling to ask the Federal Communications Commission to declare that phone carriers are running afoul of the Communications Act when they share customers’ call logs with third parties, even if they first purge those call logs of certain personal details such as names and phone numbers. The Communications Act severely restricts how carriers may use or sell sensitive information known as customer proprietary network information (CPNI) and it's important that the FCC acknowledge and take steps to stop this from happening in the future.
The Petition follows on the heels of reports that AT&T has been selling records of customers’ phone calls to the C.I.A. Upon further investigation, Public Knowledge found that all four major mobile carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) have privacy policies that indicate they believe it is okay to sell or share similar records.
Public Knowledge was joined by the Benton Foundation, Center for Digital Democracy, Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Common Cause, Consumer Action, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Free Press, the Center for Media Justice, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, and U.S. PIRG.
The following quote can be attributed to Laura Moy, Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“Consumers have no choice but to share vast quantities of personal and private information about themselves with phone carriers in order to obtain service, which is an absolute necessity in the modern age. Americans should be able to rest assured that carriers can’t just turn around and secretly share or sell that information with marketers or the government without consent. This section of the Communications Act was designed to protect consumers’ privacy, and the FCC should do just that by vigorously enforcing it.”
A link to the petition can be found here.
A link to a blog post can be found here.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.