Court Affirms FCC’s Rule Requiring Prior “Opt-In” to Share Customer Data

A U.S. Circuit Court in the District of Columbia has upheld the FCC’s rule that requires telecommunications carriers to obtain prior “opt-in” consent from customers before disclosing their personal information to joint venture partners or independent contractors for marketing purposes. The rule, which was adopted in 2007, covers all Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) and also applies to service providers offering VoIP (Voice Over IP) services to customers. For those who don’t stay updated on what the FCC rules mean by CPNI, it includes information such as the phone numbers called by a consumer, the frequency, duration, and timing of the calls and any additional services the consumer is receiving (e.g., call waiting). Our telecommunications experts expect the FCC to enforce this rule aggressively. If you want to read the case yourself, go to National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. FCC , but if you really want to understand what it means to you, contact Robert H. Jackson or Judith L. Harris in our Washington, DC Office.