Verizon Communications paid $7.4 million to settle a Federal Communications Commission complaint that the company didn’t notify subscribers of their privacy rights or their ability to opt out of having their information shared.
FCC staff said that Verizon failed to tell about two million new customers about their rights to opt out of having their information used for marketing purposes. The company failed to provide required notices beginning in 2006 but didn’t discover the problem until six years later. Even then, the FCC charged, Verizon didn’t inform the government of its opt-out omissions until early 2013.
“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,” said Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, in a statement.
In addition to the $7.4 million fine, Verizon will now be required to print opt-out notices on every bill, not just the first one sent to customers.
A Verizon spokesman said the problem was an internal issue with sharing of information for marketing purposes and did not involve other companies.
“Verizon takes seriously its obligation to comply with all FCC rules, and once we discovered the issue with the notices we informed the FCC, fixed the problem and implemented a number of measures to ensure it does not recur,” the company said in a statement.