Feeds

US Supreme Court lets opt-out data sharing stand

Advertisers have rights too

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The US Supreme Court today let stand a controversial lower-court ruling enabling telecomms companies to use and share information mined from customers' billing records to pitch additional services, the Associated Press reports.

The Court declined to reinstate US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations previously struck down by the Tenth US Circuit Court of Appeals. The FCC regs had required telecomms companies to seek permission before using or sharing their customers' records.

US West, SBC Communications and BellSouth had challenged the Commission on grounds that the regs restricted their First Amendment right to engage in 'commercial speech' with their customers.

The appellate court found that the FCC could adequately protect consumers' privacy by allowing them to opt-out of marketing schemes which use their billing data.

The FCC had "insufficiently justified" its imposition of an opt-in regime, the appellate court ruled.

FCC Chairman William Kennard had criticised the ruling earlier. "It's a sad day when the First Amendment rights of telephone companies to solicit business outweighs the rights of consumers to protect their privacy," he sighed.

Today's appeal was filed by the Competition Policy Institute, a front group representing start-ups entering the telecomms market. The Institute calls customer records "data, not speech."

A rather lame objection; the Court grasps the difference. Its point was that the companies involved need access to that data in order to exercise 'commercial speech'.

Privacy is beginning to emerge as a Campaign 2000 issue, especially in congressional races - but potentially in the presidential race as well - with the Internet featured as both the cosmic mother lode of marketing data, and the single greatest threat to consumer privacy ever devised by Man.

Election hopefuls will divide themselves into pro and con camps according to whether accommodating the ad industry, or Mom and Pop, better suits their campaign strategy.

By declining to hear the FCC-regs appeal, the Supreme Court has signalled not that the marketing vs privacy issue is dead, but rather that the sorts of legislation likely to be promised in the coming months by your friendly neighbourhood congressional hopeful had better be considered, and written, with care. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
DVLA website GOES TITSUP on day paper car tax discs retire
Welcome to GOV.UK - digital by de ... FAULT
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.