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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CC 98-5 COMMON CARRIER ACTION February 19, 1998

Customers To Control Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

(CC Docket Nos. 96-115, 96-149)

The Commission today adopted an Order that furthers the privacy rights of telecommunications customers while promoting the convenience by which customers may receive telecommunications service. In addition, the Commission's action fosters fair competition among telecommunications carriers regarding the use of customer information. This sensitive and commercially valuable customer information includes, for example, when a customer places a call, whom and where a customer calls, and the types of service offerings to which a customer subscribes. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 refers to this as "customer proprietary network information," or CPNI.

Section 222 of the 1996 Act establishes CPNI requirements, effective upon enactment, for all telecommunications carriers. The statute recognizes that customers must be able to control information they view as sensitive and personal from use, disclosure, and access by carriers. Where information is not sensitive, or where a customer so directs, the statute permits the dissemination of customer information. In response to requests from telecommunications companies, today's Order clarifies these CPNI requirements.

Among the Commission's conclusions are the following:

  • Carriers are permitted to use CPNI without customer approval to market offerings related to the customer's existing service relationship with the carrier. In other words, if a customer subscribes to a carrier's local and wireless service, but not its long distance service, the carrier may use the customer's CPNI to market offerings related to local or wireless service, but not long distance service. For example, the carrier may use information about the customer's local phone usage to market local service features such as caller ID and call forwarding but not to market long distance service. The Commission found this "total service approach" offers convenience for the customer while preventing the use of CPNI in ways that the customer would not expect.

  • Before carriers may use CPNI to market service outside the customer's existing service relationship, carriers must obtain customer approval. Such approval may be written, oral, or electronic. In order to ensure that customers are informed of their statutory rights before granting approval, carriers are further required to provide a one-time notification of customers' CPNI rights prior to any solicitation for approval.

  • The Computer III CPNI framework, as well as other existing CPNI rules, are superseded by today's comprehensive Order.

  • The Commission concluded that only section 222 of the Act specifically governs all carriers' use of CPNI, including the Bell Operating Companies (BOCs). In doing so, the Commission revisited conclusions reached in its Non-Accounting Safeguards and Electronic Publishing Orders that sections 272 and 274 of the Act impose additional obligations on the BOCs regarding CPNI.

Finally, in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission asked for additional comment on three issues involving carrier duties and obligations established under sections 222: whether a customer may restrict carrier use of CPNI for all marketing purposes; the appropriate protections for carrier information and additional enforcement mechanisms the Commission may apply; and the foreign storage of, and access to, domestic CPNI.

Action by the Commission February 19, 1998 by Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-27). Chairman, Commissioners.


News media contact: Rochelle Cohen at (202) 418-0253, TTY (202) 418-2555.
Common Carrier Bureau contacts: Dorothy Attwood or Tonya Rutherford at (202) 418-1580.