The FCC has sent a message that it is serious about protecting telecommunications customers' proprietary network information (CPNI).
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has proposed $12 million-plus in fines against 600-plus, mostly small telecommunications companies for failing to file their annual customer proprietary network compliance certificate. That is a form that certifies they have a plan for preventing phone call data from unauthorized access and disclosure by info brokers and others.
Companies have to file annually, and all those cited had failed to provide the information for 2007, or a sufficient explanation when the FCC asked where the form was, according to the bureau.
The commission fined each company $20,000, although it could assess up to a $130,000 fine per firm.
The FCC toughened its CPNI rules in 2007, and said it took into account that fact that this was the first year for compliance with the form, and the fact that most of the companies were small, in setting the fine amount.
"I have long stressed the importance of protecting the sensitive information that telecommunications carriers collect about their customers," said acting chairman Michael Copps. "Carriers' obligation to annually certify that they have implemented a CPNI protection plan is essential to ensuring their compliance with the Commission's rules as well as our ability to monitor their compliance. The broad nature of this enforcement action hopefully will ensure substantial compliance with our CPNI rules going forward as the Commission continues to make consumer privacy protection a top priority."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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