Cable Communications Policy Act Of 1984

Created by Laura Biber on March 11, 2016 1689

The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 (CCPA) requires that cable service operators notify their subscribers through a written privacy policy of the nature and uses of personal information that is being collected. Included in the definition of cable operators are cable companies providing internet access.

Cable operators are not allowed to collect or disclose personally identifiable information (PII) of their subscribers without first obtaining their consent. There are some exceptions to the prohibition on PII disclosure, as cable operators can disclose personal data when necessary for a "legitimate business activity," or in compliance with a court order. Also, cable operators are permitted to disclose subscriber names and addresses so long as they have provided the subscriber with the opportunity to opt out. This opt out option is often included through the standard cable user agreement.

In addition to the above restrictions on the collection and disclosure of PII, subscribers must also have access to their personal data held by the cable operator. Cable operators are also required to destroy PII if the information is no longer necessary for the purpose which it was collected and there is not a pending request or court order. 

A governmental entity may obtain PII about a cable subscriber pursuant to a court order only if they can offer "clear and convincing evidence" that the person is reasonably suspected of engaging in criminal activity. This is a standard higher than probable cause and the government must also demonstrate that the information they are seeking would be material to the case. The person whose information is being requested must be given the opportunity to appear and contest the government's claim.

Section 551(f) of the CCPA provides for a private cause of action and actual damages for violations of the CCPA. The minimum damages are $1,000 or $100 for each day of the violation, whichever is higher. Punitive...

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Written by Laura Biber on March 31, 2016 0 2536
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Supporting Authority

Klimas v. Comcast Cable Commc'ns, Inc., 465 F.3d 271 (6th Cir. 2006)
Link to Supporting Resource

In this case the plaintiff brought suit against his Internet Service Provider (ISP), Comcast, alleging that Comcast's " practice of temporarily storing Internet protocol (IP) and universal resource locator (URL) information constituted a violation of subscriber privacy provision of the Cable Communications Policy Act." The district court rejected the plaintiff's argument that an IP address was personally identifiable information (PII), reasoning that the IP address would have to be correlated with other subscriber information in order to identify the subscriber. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court on other grounds, focusing on the fact that this was a case about internet broadband service, not cable service, and therefore the CCPA did not apply. 


Created by Laura Biber on April 23, 2016 0 2657


Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 (47 U.S.C. ยง 551)
Link to Supporting Resource

Text of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984

Created by Laura Biber on March 21, 2016 0 2663
The Regulatory Classification Of Internet Protocol Television: How The Federal Communications Commission Should Abstain From Cable Service Regulation And Promote Broadband Deployment
Link to Supporting Resource

This article looks at the history of the regulation of cable services, including the legislative intent behind some of the laws regulating cable providers. The author argues that as technology has changed, and IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) has become more common there needs to be a re-examination of what is being included under cable providers. 

Created by Laura Biber on April 22, 2016 0 2674

The Encyclopedia of Privacy: The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984
Link to Supporting Resource

This encyclopedia includes a section discussing how consent is obtained under CCPA, when cable providers may disclose information, and notification requirements. The article on the CCPA starts on page 77 of the document. 

Created by Laura Biber on April 23, 2016 0 2675