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Verizon to share customers' personal information

Alarm bells are being raised south of the 49th parallel over plans by Verizon to share subscribers' CPNI records with third parties.  CPNI, or customer proprietary network information, comprises users’ calling records and includes the numbers of incoming and outgoing calls and time spent on each call, among other data. CPNI is therefore the key to delivering targeted advertising to cellular phones.

Verizon Wireless in early October began sending letters notifying customers that they have 30 days to opt out of the program by calling an 800 number before their information would be shared.  Privacy advocates are circulating an open letter calling on the FCC to block this practice, arguing that the law prohibits Verizon from sharing these records.  The FCC, however, states that “Consent rules (have been) modified to require carriers to obtain explicit consent from a customer before disclosing a customer’s CPNI to a carrier’s joint venture partners or independent contractors for the purposes of marketing communications-related services to that customer.” 

Verizon spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said “CPNI notices are nothing new; other telecom and wireless service providers have been using this as a means to open communications with their customers for years.  This is the first time Verizon Wireless has sent a CPNI notice to customers, and in accordance with FCC guidelines, we are providing the opt-out option for sharing information among our telecom affiliates."

FCC sez "you need to get the customers permission".  Verizon sez "Hey, we're gonna keep doing what we've been doing all along, but you can ask us not to."  They're not really the same, now, are they?

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