FCC issues $10 million fine for user privacy breaches

The FCC usually frets over issues like fair network access and next-generation technology, but it’s now concerned about your privacy, too. The agency has just issued its first fines over data security, slapping phone carriers TerraCom and YourTel with a total of $10 million in penalties for storing their customer info in the clear. FCC officials claim that both of the budget-oriented providers stored addresses, Social Security numbers and other vital data not just online, but in a format that just about anyone could read.

The FCC took a big stand today saying it will fine TerraCom and YourTel America $10 million because the agency said both carriers violated the privacy of phone customers’ personal information. The action is the agency’s first data security case and the largest privacy enforcement in the Commission’s history. The FCC said TerraCom and its affiliate YourTel stored Social Security numbers, names, addresses, driver’s licenses, and other sensitive information belonging to their customers on unprotected Internet servers that anyone in the world could access. In their privacy policies, the FCC said two companies stated that they had in place “technology and security features to safeguard the privacy of your customer specific information from unauthorized access or improper use.” Yet, from September 2012 through April 2013, the sensitive documents they collected from consumers were apparently stored in a format accessible via the Internet and readable by anyone.

By Sal McCloskey

+Sal McCloskey is a tech blogger in Los Angeles who (sadly) falls into the stereotype associated with nerds. Yes, he's a Star Trek fan and writes about it on Uberly. His glasses are thick and his allergies are thicker. Despite all that, he's (somehow) married to a beautiful woman and has 4 kids. Find him on Twitter or Facebook,

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