Tuesday, March 29, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Restricting Your Cell Carrier’s Use of Your CPNI Data

Adam C. Engst:

CPNI originally referred to anything that might appear on your bill, but now varies widely by service and carrier. With cellular carriers, it might include your data plan and usage, device info, location history, Web browsing history, and even demographic information.

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Are there any actual abuses of CPNI? Yes. Additional research revealed, among many other stories at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), that in 2014 Verizon paid a $7.4 million fine for using CPNI for marketing purposes without informing customers. Worse, AT&T had to pay a $25 million fine in 2015 for disclosing personal information (and misusing CPNI data) for almost 280,000 of its U.S. customers, thanks to crooks paying off employees in three AT&T call centers in Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippines to unlock stolen and/or grey market phones.

It’s important to realize that restricting a carrier from using your CPNI doesn’t prevent it from being collected, so opting out might not prevent such information from being swept up in data breaches like AT&T’s, but it certainly can’t hurt. Regardless, the fact that the FCC felt it was important to require telcos to offer such an opt-out makes me think it’s worth doing.

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