In what the US Federal Communications Commission has termed as an “unacceptable”  usage of personal consumer information for marketing purposes, telecom giant, Verizon Communications has agreed to pay a fine of $7.4 million to the US Treasury.

Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau said in a statement, “In today’s increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices.”

“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,” he said.

According to the US Communications Act, telecom companies must get the approval of its customers through either an “opt in” or “opt out” process, with regards to sharing some of their personal data. If the process fails at some point, the company must report the problem to the FCC within five business days.

In its defence, Verizon issued a statement pointing out that any incident of data breach had not occurred. “The issue here was that a notice required by FCC rules inadvertently was not provided to certain of Verizon’s wireline customers before they received marketing materials from Verizon for other Verizon services that might be of interest to them. It did not involve a data breach or an unauthorized disclosure of customer information to third parties.”

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(Image Credit: Robert Scoble)

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