FCC Proposes $10 Million Fine for Alleged Failure to Protect Consumer Privacy


For the second time in two months, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has taken action to protect consumer privacy; this time in historic fashion with an unprecedented $10 million dollar proposed forfeiture!

In a news release issued today, the FCC announced that it intends to fine two carriers, TerraCom, Inc., and YourTel America, Inc. $10 million for breaching consumers’ trust by collecting personal data, promising to protect it, yet storing it in a way that anyone searching the Internet could find it.  The companies had collected the information from customers to show eligibility for the Lifeline program, and the information included Social Security numbers, names, addresses, driver’s licenses, and other personal information that the FCC stated exposed the consumers to fraud and identity theft.

The FCC alleges that the companies’ privacy policies were deceptive and misleading; the companies’ privacy policies asserted that they had implemented data security measures to safeguard the information when, according to the FCC, the information was stored on the Internet and accessible to anyone.  Further, the companies failed to provide notice to potentially affected consumers.  The FCC intends to impose the fines against both parties for the allegedly deceptive and misleading representations and unjust and unreasonable practices.

Our firm advises all clients providing telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services to review internal policies regarding the protection of personal information.  The FCC’s historic enforcement action is a stark reminder to communications service providers of the increasing importance of protecting their customers privacy and ensuring their protected data is secure.  It also presents an opportunity for firm clients to consider a Privacy Audit by our law firm’s privacy law professionals.

Information Privacy, Data Security and Consumer Protection

Our experienced attorneys provide creative, practical, specialized legal counsel and support to enable companies to successfully manage their compliance risks. Specialized in representing all aspects of the communications sector, including providers of cloud communications, broadband and Internet access, and VoIP services, we carefully weave privacy and security in all aspects of a business to minimize exposure while optimizing permitted uses of information for the benefit of our clients and their customers. We offer comprehensive assessments of privacy and security requirements to ensure compliance with the myriad U.S. federal and state laws, regulations and policies addressing privacy issues.


Information Privacy and Data Security Risk Management Checklist


In a timely development, The CommLaw Group is excited to announce its affiliation Mark Del Bianco, who recently joined the firm as Of Counsel, serving primarily in the firm’s Information Privacy, Data Security and Consumer Protection practice group.  Mr. Del Bianco holds the Certified Information Privacy Professional/US designation from the International Association of Privacy Professionals, and regularly advises clients on data privacy and security issues arising from the growth of the Internet and the move to the cloud. His recent projects in the privacy area have ranged from drafting client-specific website privacy policies to advising on data security obligations and coordinating a client’s response to a data breach involving customers in 22 states.

Clients may contact either Jonathan Marashlian at jsm@commlawgroup.com or Joanna Wallace at jgw@commlawgroup.com to schedule a CPNI audit.  Clients with questions about privacy notices or policies may contact Linda McReynolds at lgm@commlawgroup.com.

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