CPUC Refuses To Protect Your Privacy, Won’t Rein In Phone Companies
Consumer and privacy groups Thursday lost their bid to create new rules in California that would have governed how cellphone companies gather and use customers’ information.
The proposal was opposed by several cellphone carriers and was defeated by a 3-2 vote by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California that pushed for new rules, called Thursday’s vote “an outrageous decision.”
“The majority of the members of the Public Utilities Commission are burying their heads in the sand and are blissfully ignorant of the reality of privacy violations by phone companies.”
The Consumer Federation of California, The Utility Reform Network and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse asked the PUC to write new standards for how telephone companies collect, handle and share customers’ information to protect consumer privacy in an age of data breaches.
But Commissioner Mark Ferron, backed by Commissioner Carla Peterman and commission President Michael Peevey, agreed with the phone companies’ position that new rules are unnecessary because federal and state laws already apply—and customers already are notified of their companies’ privacy policies.
Commissioners Catherine Sandoval and Michel Peter Florio unsuccessfully argued that it was time to take another look at regulations that were originally aimed at landline telephones, long before the invention of cellphones and their ability to track users’ movements and behavior.
“Just as phones from 1986 are antiquated, so are privacy rules from 1986,” said Mindy Spatt, spokeswoman for The Utility Reform Network. “Many customers don’t realize they are being tracked, and certainly aren’t being given a choice.”