Press Release Tech Transitions Privacy and Data Security

Public Knowledge Urges Wireless Industry to Protect Personal Data of Low-income Americans

October 9, 2015 , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge and 11 other consumer advocacy groups filed an Opposition to the CTIA – The Wireless Association’s petition asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its authority to safeguard sensitive information of Lifeline program participants. The FCC’s June 2015 Order permits telephone providers to copy and store highly sensitive personal data of Lifeline applicants, including social security numbers, tax records and addresses.

Public Knowledge argues in this Opposition that failure by carriers to protect this extremely personal data would expose Lifeline applicants to identity theft and predatory marketing practices. The organizations further explain that CTIA’s arguments are procedurally flawed and without legal merit.

The following statement may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“It is disgraceful that the wireless industry disputes their obligation to protect information collected to qualify for a federal anti-poverty program. The information collected is exactly what a hacker would want for identity theft, or what unscrupulous providers would want to sell to predatory marketers.

“This petition is even more outrageous because the carriers themselves asked for permission to digitally scan and store the information rather than keep cumbersome — but unhackable — paper files. Having gotten permission to keep digital files, the industry now wants to go back on its pledge to protect the information through enforceable rules.

“Essentially, the wireless industry is presenting the most vulnerable among us with a choice — ‘give up your privacy rights in exchange for federal aid.’ The FCC should move quickly to protect the privacy of low-income Americans and deny CTIA’s petition.”

You may view the filed Opposition.