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Verizon Privacy The Almighty Buck United States

Verizon Pays $7.4 Million To Settle FCC Privacy Investigation 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes Verizon has agreed to pay $7.4 million because it did not notify customers before using their personal information in marketing campaigns. The FCC discovered that Verizon failed to alert around two million customers of rights that include telling customers how to opt out from having their personal information used. "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," Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau said.
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Verizon Pays $7.4 Million To Settle FCC Privacy Investigation

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  • That'll teach them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:04PM (#47820955) Homepage

    Side note: How fast do you suppose Verizon wireless makes 7.4 million? 3 hours? 4?

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:13PM (#47821029)

      A better question, how much did they make selling this data?

      Whether laws are heeded by corporations is dependent on a simple formula: what's to be gained by ignoring the law / (chance to get caught * fine). Unless that's below 1, the law becomes simply a cost factor to do business.

      • by Ichijo (607641) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:08PM (#47821467) Homepage Journal

        And how much will each customer be reimbursed?

        • by rHBa (976986)
          $7.4M divided by "around two million customers", minus costs, they'll be lucky to get $3.50, better watch out for that godamn Lock Ness Monsta!!!
          • by rwise2112 (648849)

            $7.4M divided by "around two million customers", minus costs, they'll be lucky to get $3.50, better watch out for that godamn Lock Ness Monsta!!!

            Well, actually they will increase each customers bill by that amount because they didn't make as much money this year.

        • Re... im...?

          I'm sorry, my CFO dictionary doesn't contain that word, does it increase profit? If not, we don't need it.

      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:19PM (#47821553)

        A better question, how much did they make selling this data?

        Whether laws are heeded by corporations is dependent on a simple formula: what's to be gained by ignoring the law / (chance to get caught * fine). Unless that's below 1, the law becomes simply a cost factor to do business.

        And even that equation is grossly unethical and doesn't backfire as often as it should. But it can, as Ford found out in the Pinto fiasco.

        This is a ridiculously small settlement. How much is that per person? $3.70? AND -- this is just as big of a problem -- will ANY of those people who were actually harmed see any of that money?

        This is what corporate cronyism (or what some people call "market capture") is all about. Government revolving door. It's a travesty and a tragedy. And it's also why I won't do business with Verizon.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        A proper punishment would have been to force them to switch to explicit, vountary opt in without any hidden or obvious fees for opting out, and no rebates of any kind for opting in for any such activities in the future.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      How fast do you suppose Verizon wireless makes 7.4 million? 3 hours? 4?

      Also, how much compensation did the affected customers receive?
      Even if the punishment were painful, why does FCC get all of it?

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

      Oh, well, never mind. I guess customers got something out of this settlement after all. And in the fourth year, Verizon doesn't even have to notify them about their opt-out rights?

      • by onproton (3434437)

        Also, how much compensation did the affected customers receive? Even if the punishment were painful, why does FCC get all of it?

        I was going to say, that doesn't really make sense. It is the customers that were harmed, they should get some sort of compensation for the breech of their privacy, shouldn't they?

      • by ihtoit (3393327)

        opt *out*? That should be illegal, how about an opt *in*?

        Opt outs piss me off. Takes me away from other stuff I could be doing like posting on slashdot.

    • by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:14PM (#47821045)

      Verizon's wireless has made as much as 5BN in a quarter recently, but has also had losing quarters too.

      For cocktail napkin math and simplicity's sake, lets say they made 7.4BN last year, making this 1/1000th of their profit.

      Wolfram says 525 minutes.

    • Yeah; that'll certainly be a deterrent next time. By income ratios, that's less than the average person pays for a parking ticket.
    • I agree the fine is a punishment somewhere on the pain scale beneath fifty lashes with a wet noodle.

      The real downside for Verizon will be the outrage that drives thousands of their customers to... another evil carrier.

      Sigh! Never mind.

    • Regardless of how quickly the money keeps rolling in, I'm sure that this defeat will allow Verizon to hike their rates to make up the "deficit".

      That this sort of thing is allowed as "opt-out" is ridiculous anyway. Obviously this data has value to Verizon; they should be bargaining with its customers for its use. "Want to save $5.00 per year on your cell-phone bill? Click here to let us market your personal information." That they can essentially just take it from people without recompense unless they happen

      • by ihtoit (3393327)

        yeah, you beat me to it. I've had to "opt out" of the NHS giving my personal data to some private company for pharmaceutical companies to trade in, I've had to "opt out" of HMRC and the DWP giving my personal data to employment agencies who are trying to lock me in to exclusive zero-hours contracts (two things: I don't do exclusive and I DO NOT do zero-hours contracts), I've withdrawn from the TPS because I'm pretty fucking sure those cunts are selling my phone number to telemarketers as a valid number - th

    • One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand... that should be about right if the bill I get each month from the greedy pricks is any indication.
    • Hello,

      It's such a slight slap on the wrist that I doubt Verizon even felt it.

      According to Wikipedia, Verizon made $120.55B in profits last year. That's a little over $330M a day.

      Or about, $13.8M an hour.

      So, a $7.4M fine means they paid the equivalent of 32.4 minutes of profit.

      Regards,

      Aryeh Goretsky

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What good does this do for the 2 million customers whose personal information was illegally used?

  • There is nothing acceptable about "I won't shit on you as long as you jump through my hoop". It doesn't matter whether it's a simple email or the hoop is more difficult, "opt out" needs to end.
  • by Jahoda (2715225) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:28PM (#47821147) Homepage
    These are the issues that truly threaten consumer freedom in the marketplace. It's the reason why the FCC was even created: to regulate how telecommunications companies use customer data for marketing. And with such a punishment as this, all I can tell you is that it's a warm sunny day to be an American here in the land of fair-play, privacy, and opportunity.
    • by ewieling (90662)
      I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or are simply an idiot. I understand the desperate desire for some part, any part of government to protect privacy, but no matter how much you wish, the FCC was NOT created to protect "consumer freedom in the marketplace". One could argue the FCC prevented "consumer freedom in the marketplace" in the area of telephony by creating a telecom monopoly aka AT&T for around 40 years. The FCC was created by the Communications Act of 1934. To quote Wikipedia:

      The state

      • by Jahoda (2715225)
        "I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or are simply an idiot"

        . Well, my friend - between the two of us, only one doesn't get sarcasm, and only one calls people "idiot" on the internet. I suppose that's something for you to think about, eh?
  • The story says Verizon spammed nearly two million customers who didn't have a chance to opt in or opt out of their advertising. The $7.4 million dollars was probably cheaper than the campaign to reach those customers. I do hope someone in Washington D.C. helps the FCC find their testicles, even one testicle might help.

    ODF

  • by onproton (3434437) <emdanyi @ g m a il.com> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:14PM (#47821497)
    These "automatic opt-ins" should be completely outlawed in every case. I can't come to terms with the notion that someone's inaction can mean that they agree - it should have to be a positive affirmation.
  • That's a massive three whole dollars per user. I'm sure Big companies are taking notice at the going rate for privacy.
  • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:30PM (#47821637)

    Then do unto them as they did to you. Publish anything you can find on or about them. Remember, doesn't necessarily have to be cheesy.

  • Hope everyone should get the payment

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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