Cracking Down: FCC Initiates Enforcement Action Against Hundreds of Telecommunications Carriers For Failing to Certify Compliance With Customer Privacy Rules

On Tuesday, February 24, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Omnibus Notice of Apparent Liability alleging that more than 600 telecommunications carriers have violated Section 222 of the Communications Act which "imposes the general duty on all telecommunications carriers to protect the confidentiality of their subscribers’ proprietary information" and the EPIC Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) Order (22 FCC Rcd 6927), which requires each carrier to certify compliance with the regulations governing customer information.  FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps issued a public statement addressing the enforcement action and highlighting that the FCC "continued to mconsumer privacy protection a top priority.  The FCC seeks a $20,000 fine from each of the carriers (around $13 million in total) and has stated that it moderated the amount of the fines because the carriers were small companies and because this was the first year of the certification requirement (certifications were due March 1, 2008).  As the FCC warns in its official Notice, "[t]o the extent that we determine that the proposed forfeiture adpoted herein does not have the intended deterrent effect, future noncompliance will face more severe penalties." 

If you’ve been looking for signs of how the Obama administration intends to enforce privacy and information security regulations, here is one of a few early signs that federal regulators are under orders to step up enforcement efforts and are begining with the backlog of violations from 2008. 


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