FCC to Wireless Carriers: Protect Customer Data (Unless the NSA Asks for It)


  (Source: Trashy World)

Government is eager to protect customers metadata from “evil” profit-hungry private sector entities

Recent revelations regarding the U.S. spying on its citizens have added a layer of irony to what otherwise would be an admirable consumer protections policy lofted by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — the federal agency tasked with regulating telecommunications in the U.S.

In the “Declatory Ruling“, the FCC discusses the issue of customer proprietary network information (CPNI) or — as the Obama administration likes to refer to it as — “metadata”, which includes “phone numbers that a customer has called and received calls from, the durations of calls, and the phone’s location at the beginning and end of each call.”

In its ruling the FCC states:

Carriers are allowed to collect this information and to use it to improve their networks and for customer support. Carriers’ collection of this information can benefit consumers by enabling a carrier to detect a weak signal, a dropped call, or trouble with particular phone models. But if carriers collect CPNI in this manner, today’s ruling makes clear that they must protect it.

The Commission can take enforcement action in the event that a failure to take reasonable precautions causes a compromise of CPNI on a device. This clarification avoids what would otherwise be an important gap in privacy protections for consumers. 

The closing paragraph seems to deliver a clear threat — if carriers lose consumer data to “hackers” and it is established that poor protections were in place, they may be fined.  The ruling also applies to other kinds of metadata, such as usage statistics on preinstalled apps.

Given recent data losses by carriers in the U.S. and elsewhere, this is good news as it may pressure carriers to be more responsible.

People on phones
The U.S. doesn’t want your data shared recklessly — but it wants to seize it for itself.
[Image Source: Mashable]

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly collects 99 percent of call record metadata in the U.S. and passes that metadata off to private contractors with nary a public notice.  Thus it’s a bit ironic that the government is so concerned about carrier data loss, when it itself is seizing so much data and has such a poor track record when it comes to security.

Source: FCC


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