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Verizon fined $7.4 million for privacy violations

Verizon failed to notify customers of their opt-out options before using their data for targeted marketing.
By Gabrielle Levy Follow @gabbilevy Contact the Author   |   Sept. 4, 2014 at 2:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Federal regulators slapped Verizon with a $7.4 million fine for violating the privacy of its customers.

The Federal Communications Commission announced the telecom had agreed to the settlement for failing to properly notify 2 million new wireline customers that it was using their information for marketing purposes.

Phone companies may use customer information such as billing and location data to direct targeted campaigns, but they must first obtain their consent.

"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," Travis LeBlanc, the FCC's acting enforcement director, said in a statement.

FCC's Enforcement Bureau found Verizon failed to notify customers of their opt-out rights, starting in 2006 and continuing until September 2012, when it discovered the problem. It also violated rules that require notifying the FCC of any problems with the notification system within five days -- something it did until Jan. 18, 2013, 126 days later.

Verizon has also agreed to notify their customers of opt-out rights on every bill for the next three years, the FCC said.

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