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On Thursday, a Comcast customer filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that Comcast shared his personal information with a third party without his consent, in violation of the cable privacy provisions of the Communications Act.
The plaintiff, Conal O’Rourke, claims that after a series of calls with Comcast’s customer service department, Comcast complained to his employer about him and he was fired from his job. The lawsuit filed yesterday is based on the same alleged series of events. Mr. O’Rourke claims that he did not authorize Comcast to disclose his information to anyone else, but Comcast nevertheless disclosed personally identifying information about Mr. O’Rourke, including his name, to PricewaterhouseCoopers, where Mr. O’Rourke worked.
The following can be attributed to Laura Moy, staff attorney at Public Knowledge:
“If the facts in this complaint are true, they are extremely troubling. They would show that the nation’s largest cable provider exercised a complete disregard for federal privacy law.
“Cable companies are privy to a vast amount of highly sensitive information about their customers, including not only household and billing information, but also viewing habits, favorite programs, and—in the case of broadband service—websites visited. Customers need to know that their service providers will hold their private information in confidence.
“This is especially the case given the lack of competition in the cable marketplace. For many Americans, there are few broadband and pay TV choices in their areas. As regulators consider the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, we hope they will follow this case closely. The facts alleged in this complaint, if they are true, along with the admitted customer services failing that led to this dispute, suggest that Comcast habitually puts its interests above all else even to the point of disregarding the law.”