Telecommunications Act Of 1996

Created by Laura Biber on March 11, 2016 1731

TheTelecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of U.S. communications law since the 1934 Communications Act. The stated objective of this act was to foster competition through de-regularatory national policies in order to "accelerate rapid[] private sector deployment of advanced information technologies and services to all Americans." The section of this act relevant to privacy law is 47 U.S.C. § 222.

§ 222 states that telecommunications companies have a duty to protect the confidentiality of customer proprietary network information (CPNI). CPNI includes information contained in telephone bills such as the time, date, duration, and destination of each call and the type of phone service a customer subscribes to. The regulations developed under the Telecommunications Act (47 C.F.R. § 64.2009) require that telecommunications companies implement a system to verify customer's CPNI requests, train personnel on the authorized uses of CPNI, and maintain records of how CPNI is used. 

Telecommunications carriers are permitted to use CPNI, without customer approval, for providing marketing services consistent with the category of services the customer already subscribes to from that carrier. Telecommunications carriers may also use CPNI without approval for maintenance and repair purposes, for the purposes of conducting research on certain technologies, and to market certain services (see 47 C.F.R. § 64.2005(c)(3) for the full list). For all other uses of CPNI, the carrier must receive the customer's "opt-in" approval prior to releasing CPNI. 

Written by Laura Biber on April 24, 2016 0 2595
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Supporting Authority

US West, Inc. v. F.C.C., 182 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir. 1999)
Link to Supporting Resource

The federal Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the FCC regulations requiring consumers to "opt-in" violated the telephone carrier's First Amendment right of free speech. The court analyzed these restrictions under the commercial speech standard, and concluded that the regulation was not narrowly tailored because the government could have adopted the less restrictive "opt-out" approach.

Created by Laura Biber on March 27, 2016 0 2697

National Cable & Telecommunications Ass'n v. F.C.C., 555 F.3d 996 (D.C. Cir. 2011)
Link to Supporting Resource

Cable and telecommunications providers challenged the FCC's order, amended in 2007, requiring "opt-in" consent prior to disclosing a customer's information to a carrier's joint venture partner or independent contractor for the purpose of marketing communications-related services to that customer. The court held that these regulations were not an unconstitutional regulation on commercial speech and that the FCC was justified in adjusting their previous policies. 

Created by Laura Biber on April 23, 2016 0 2676


Privacy of Customer Information section of Telecommunications Act (47 U.S.C. § 222)
Link to Supporting Resource

47 U.S.C. § 222 is the section that outlines the privacy of customer information portion of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. 

Created by Laura Biber on March 27, 2016 0 2717

Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. Chapter 5)
Link to Supporting Resource

Chapter 5 of Title 47 contains laws concerning wire or radio communications. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been codified in this chapter. Relevant sections include §§ 151 et seq., 251 et seq., and 271 et seq.

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FCC Report and Order Concerning the Use of Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI)
Link to Supporting Resource

In this order, the FCC adopted additional safeguards to protect CPNI from disclosure, specifically from "pretexters." The FCC defines pretexters as those who pretend to be a customer or other authorized person in order to obtain access to a customer's communication records. 

Created by Laura Biber on March 27, 2016 0 2706

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC): Consumer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI)
Link to Supporting Resource

This page contains an overview of CPNI, information on the latest developments concerning CPNI, and instructions on how to opt-out of carriers' information sharing programs.  

Created by Laura Biber on April 23, 2016 0 2701