Verizon has reached a $US7.4 million settlement with the Federal Communication Commission.
The settlement will bring a close to an investigation by the FCC that found Verizon had used its customers consumer information for marketing purposes without notifying them how to opt-out.
According to the Communications Act, phone companies are required to inform customers of their privacy rights on their first invoice or bill.
In addition to paying the FCC $US7.4 million, Verizon will also be required to include information on how to opt-out of its marketing services on every bill its customers receive for the next three years.
Beginning in 2006, approximately 2 million Verizon customers failed to receive information about their opt-out rights concerning their information, using their personal information for marketing campaigns without their consent, according to the FCC. Verizon says it didn’t even notice the oversight until 2012, but failed to notify the FCC until 2013, some 126 days after the fact.
“In today’s increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honour its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, in an official statement. “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.”
Aside from including opt-out notifications on all customer bills for the next three years, Verizon will also monitor and test its billing systems, and will be required to alert the FCC of any issues within five business days.
You can read the FCC’s full statement on Verizon’s settlement over at their official website.