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Verizon, FCC Settle Privacy Investigation

The Federal Communication Commission has closed their investigation of Verizon’s use of personal consumer information for marketing purposes with a settlement of $7.4 million dollars. In addition to the fee, Verizon has also agreed to include opt-out notices on all customer bills for the next three years to help remedy the issue. Seems like a bit of a slap on the wrist for such a huge company, but maybe that’s just me.

The FCC’s investigation unearthed evidence that Verizon failed to notify nearly 2 million customers of their ability to opt-out of Verizon’s marketing campaigns. Normally, Verizon would give opt-out options on the customer’s first bill or welcome letter, but from 2006 until the issue was caught in 2012, notices were not given. Verizon also failed to notify the FCC of the failure in the acceptable amount of time, which certainly didn’t earn them any points.

In a press release, Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reprimanded Verizon’s lack of communication with consumers as unacceptable.

“In today’s increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices,” LeBlanc said. “It is plainly unacceptable for any phone company to use its customers’ personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out.”

The settlement of $7.4 million is the largest payment in FCC history for settling an investigation related solely to the privacy of consumers. The press release didn’t make it readily apparent whether the customers were solely in the postpaid market or if the prepaid sector was also effected by the lack of opt-out communications.