FCC Moves to Fine Telcos on Consumer Data Protection

dell takes a slice at apple with super thin latitude z dellz closed

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed fining (PDF) some 600 telecommunications companies for failing to file an annual Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) report with the agency, detailing how they companies safeguard sensitive customer information suck as call logs and the types of services customers use. Acting FCC chairman Michael Copps has proposed fining more than 600 operators who failed to file any CPNI report at all $20,000 apiece; an unspecified number of companies that filed a report that didn’t comply with the FCC’s requirements would face fines of $10,000 each.

“I have long stressed the importance of protecting the sensitive information that telecommunications carriers collect about their customers, Copps wrote in a statement. “Carriers’ obligation to annually certify that they have implemented a CPNI protection plan is essential to ensuring their compliance with the Commission’s rules as well as our ability to monitor their compliance.”

The FCC’s CPNI reporting requirements date back to 2006 and a practice called “pretexting” whereby scammers and others would use social engineering to get telcos to disclose callers billing, log, and service information. The issue got a very public face when investigators working for the the Hewlett-Packard board or directors were found to have used pretexting to obtain private phone records of both board members and industry journalists. The practice of pretexting also created a hazy market of “data brokers” who specialized in obtaining consumer calling records. The FCC instituted an annual CPNI reporting requirement in April 2007, and mandated that phone companies cannot release customer call records without a customer password or other confirmation that the information is only being disclosed to the customer.

The companies have 30 days to appeal the decision or pay the $20,000 fine. The amount of the fine seems comparatively small compared to the stated importance of the CPNI filing requirement; the FCC seems aware that many of the companies that have not complied are smaller operators who may not be fully aware of their obligations.

Mobile

HMD Global admits Nokia 7 Plus handsets sent user data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Mobile

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Smart Home

Is your coffee maker hiding mold inside? Here's how to clean it

Are you a coffee drinker? If you brew your coffee at home and you don't clean your machine, you could be drinking mold, yeast, and other bacteria. Here's how to clean your coffee maker.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Google Home Hub and Lenovo smart displays

Walmart slashed the prices of Google Home smart displays for two highly regarded Lenovo models and the original Google Home Hub. We can't think of a better way to improve your smart home setup and these deals can help you save up to $100.
Deals

Amazon lowers Echo Dot cost and slashes price of the Dot and Smart Plug bundle

Amazon just unleashed extraordinary price cuts on third-generation Echo Dot smart speakers. The Alexa device is back in stock following the blowout sales last holiday season. The Echo Dot is the best-selling Alexa smart speaker worldwide.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Smart Home

Your Instant Pot can do it all. Research says it has another important function

Researchers at Dakota State University tested a variety of pressure cookers for sterilization and found that Instant Pot provides enough pressure and heat to kill off food-spoiling bacteria.
Smart Home

Need some help? Here's our handy step-by-step guide on how to Airbnb your home

Getting ready to make your home a great rental? Here's how to Airbnb your home with the right amenities, insurance, supplies, and everthing else that you need. Use this guide to get started without making beginner mistakes!
Deals

Dyson sale shatters prices on vacuums just in time for spring cleaning

Steep price cuts on Dyson vacuum cleaners for the spring cleaning season help you save money on the tools you need to do the job. We've found the best discounts on Dyson vacuums from Amazon and Walmart and put them all in one place.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on Echo devices that play Alexa’s sweetest-sounding music

Amazon slashed prices on Alexa-controlled Echo devices with the best music sound quality. All Alexa smart speakers stream music, but some sound better than others. Save on Echo Plus and the Echo Sub bundled with Echo and Echo Plus speakers.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!