Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security brings you single-source access to the expertise of Bloomberg Law’s privacy and data security editorial team, contributing practitioners,...
The Federal Communications Commission voted June 27 to require wireless carriers to adhere to the agency's Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) rules, which historically have governed only how traditional telephone companies and providers of internet-based phone services treat their customers' personal data.
Under a declaratory ruling, when a wireless carrier collects a customer's personal information, such as a number dialed, the length of a call, and the location of where a call is placed or received, that company may use or disclose it only as permitted by the commission's CPNI rules.
The ruling also makes it clear that carriers must take “reasonable precautions” to prevent unauthorized disclosure of such information, including by third-party marketers.
What is more, when a wireless carrier collects such information about customers' use of their devices using pre-installed applications, the ruling requires them to protect that information.
Though significant, the ruling only applies to wireless carriers, not operating systems run by companies such as Google Inc. or Apple Inc., a point each commissioner underscored in their statements.
An FCC official told BNA June 5 on background that the FCC would soon vote on the issue (12 PVLR 1006, 6/10/13).
The lone Republican FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, voted to approve in part and concur in part.
He said he did not agree with every legal theory presented by FCC staff in the declaratory ruling, particularly that Section 222(c)(1) of the Communications Act makes a wireless carrier responsible for CPNI data that it has neither received nor obtained.
He did, however, agree that there is no “mobile device exception” to either Section 222 or the CPNI rules.
“If information is covered by the statutory definition of CPNI set forth in section 222(h)(1), then it is CPNI, regardless of whether it is located on a mobile device,” Pai said.
He also supported the ruling's “limited scope,” noting that it only applies to information that is both collected by or at the direction of the carrier and may be accessed or controlled by the carrier or its designee.
“If a carrier is not responsible for the collection of certain data, then it may not be held responsible for protecting that data. Likewise, if a carrier doesn't have access to or control over information, then it is not obligated to safeguard it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said she hoped the agency will be proactive in helping consumers understand how data are collected on mobile phones.
Consumers should not have to be “network engineers or lawyers,” she said. “We should strive to simplify privacy policies across all platforms.”
The vote was a win for acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, who assumed the top FCC job on an interim basis when Julius Genachowski stepped down May 17 (12 PVLR 781, 5/6/13).
Clyburn has been a longtime proponent of wireless consumer protection.
In recent filings with the commission, wireless carriers had urged the FCC to encourage voluntary, industry-driven guidelines, rather than mandatory rules.
The declaratory ruling is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0627/FCC-13-89A1.pdf.
Pai's statement is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0627/FCC-13-89A4.pdf.
Rosenworcel's statement is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0627/FCC-13-89A3.pdf.
Clyburn's statement is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0627/FCC-13-89A2.pdf.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)