Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced a $25 million settlement with AT&T, over its breach of almost 280,000 records of customer names, social security numbers, and other information. The FCC announced its investigation last May, using its authority under Section 222 of the Communications Act to protect customer proprietary network information, or CPNI. On March 12, Public Knowledge and other public interest groups submitted a letter in opposition to the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 being considered in the House based on the fact that it eliminates the authority used in this exact FCC settlement.
The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, staff attorney for Public Knowledge:
“The FCC’s settlement with AT&T is yet another pro-consumer enforcement action in the agency’s long history of strong data security, data breach, and privacy protections on communications networks. In 1996, Congress created one of the strongest federal privacy rights for communications data, and the FCC has admirably taken up that mantle of authority through this settlement, through its September 2014 enforcement action against Verizon for $7.4 million, and through numerous other activities. Tom Wheeler recently announced that privacy would be a number one issue for the FCC, and we are pleased to see that promise made practice.
“For decades, the FCC has served as the expert agency on communications networks. In November 2014, the Pew Research Center released a study confirming that consumers place the highest expectations on the privacy of their voice communications. As voice, data, and video communications converge on all Internet protocol networks, the FCC’s protection of consumers’ sensitive personal information will become more critical.
“The recent net neutrality decision opens the door to extending the strong privacy that Americans have come to expect on phone networks to the next generation of IP networks. We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC to vigorously protect the consumer interest in privacy in this digital age.”
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.