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Regulated Industries > Telecommunications >

UTC work on privacy protection
Privacy is important

The UTC plays an important role in protecting the privacy of telephone customers' privacy and personal information. We set rules that regulated companies have to follow to:
  • protect customer information from getting into the wrong hands
  • limit the ways and times that auto-dialers can be used

If you think you have a problem:
Your fist step should be to contact your phone company.

Links to Current Telecom Company Privacy Info:

Some history of UTC action to protect the privacy of customer information

The UTC adopted its current rule (WAC 480-120-202) on privacy of customer information in February 2005, in docket UT-040015. The rule essentially adopts the FCC's rule on the same subject (47 C.F.R. 64.2009(f)).

Washington's previous rules were blocked by the US District Court in 2003 by an injunction in the case Verizon v. Showalter (282 F.Supp.2d 1187). After the decision, the UTC issued a statement interpreting its telephone customer privacy rules (Docket 021696). The interpretive statement, which was requested by Qwest Corporation, explains how customer information can be used by an agent of a telecommunications company when that agent is performing functions that an employee might otherwise perform.

Here are some highlights of the stronger provisions of the previous Washington rules.
  • Compared to the federal rules, the Washington rules would have given extra protection to "call detail." Call detail is information about whom, where, and when a customer makes calls. Under the enjoined state rules, even the telephone company itself could not have used this information for marketing other services without express approval by the customer.
  • Washington's rules would have drawn a tighter circle around data sharing within the "corporate family." Federal rules allow a telephone company to share customer information with all of its joint-venture partners and contractors. For example, Qwest can share customer information with an internet service provider, such as MSN or AOL, if it was a joint-venture partner. State rules would have limited such information sharing only to companies under common ownership, such as Qwest's wireline and wireless companies.
  • The Washington rules would have required telephone companies to provide better customer notices and easier methods for customers to opt-out of information sharing.
ACLU's petition for investigation
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington requested that the Commission investigate allegations that certain telephone companies in Washington released customer phone records to the federal government in violation of law. Written and oral comments were received, and the matter was discussed at the Commission's open meeting of May 13, 2006. The Commission opened an investigation and entered a protective order in docket UT-060856.

Press Release
Documents from UT-060856
Shortcut for this page is:

Staff contact: Utilities Telephone Section
Document list:
990146   Documents   Schedule   Orders   All
021696   Documents   Schedule   Orders   All
040015   Documents   Schedule   Orders   All
060856   Documents   Schedule   Orders   All


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