The FCC's New Phone Pretexting Regulations

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The Devil's Advocate
The Federal Communications Commission hopes to keep consumers safe with new regulations aimed at phone companies

The Federal Communications Commission recently strengthened privacy rules to protect users by forcing phone carriers to make customer data more secure. The new regulations follow new federal legislation to ban pretexting altogether.

The FCC will use several new methods to attempt to keep personal data safe, targeted specifically at phone companies -- land-based, wireless and voice over IP (VOIP).

The FCC hopes that these additional measures will ensure that customer records and personal information does not go to the wrong parties.
  • Carrier Authentication Requirements. Carriers are prohibited from releasing a customer’s phone call records when a customer calls the carrier except when the customer provides a password. If a customer does not provide a password, carriers may not release the customer’s phone call records except by sending it to an address of record or by the carrier calling the customer at the telephone of record. Carriers are required to provide mandatory password protection for online account access. Carriers are permitted to provide all [FONT=&quot]customer proprietary network information ([/FONT]CPNI), including customer phone call records, to customers based on in-store contact with a valid photo ID.
  • Notice to Customer of Account Changes. Carriers are required to notify the customer immediately when the following are created or changed: (1) a password; (2) a back-up for forgotten passwords; (3) an online account; or (4) the address of record.
  • Notice of Unauthorized Disclosure of CPNI. A notification process is established for both law enforcement and customers in the event of a CPNI breach.
  • Joint Venture and Independent Contractor Use of CPNI. Consent rules are modified to require carriers to obtain explicit consent from a customer before disclosing a customer’s CPNI to a carrier’s joint venture partners or independent contractors for the purposes of marketing communications-related services to that customer.
  • Annual CPNI Certification. Certification rules are amended to require carriers to file with the Commission an annual certification, including an explanation of any actions taken against data brokers and a summary of all consumer complaints received in the previous year regarding the unauthorized release of CPNI.
  • CPNI Regulations Applicable to Providers of Interconnected VoIP Service. CPNI rules are extended to cover providers of interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service.
  • Business Customers. In limited circumstances, carriers may bind themselves contractually to authentication regimes other than those adopted in this Order for services they provide to their business customers that have a dedicated account representative and contracts that specifically address the carrier’s protection of CPNI.
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The FCC has terminated its proposal inquiry to relax cell phone ban laws, but FAA regulations still run the show anyway

In December 2004 the Federal Communications Commission launched an inquiry to rescind or relax its ban on 800MHz-band cellular phones aboard in-flight aircraft. In addition to lifting the ban, the study also investigated the feasibility of using pico-cells and other technology to boost coverage in-flight communication via mobile devices.

In a release today, the FCC announced it has terminated the 2004 study (PDF). Some aspects of the study, such as technical solutions to physically allow cellular phones to function on aircraft, were deemed a success. The FCC states that its advisory arm has conducted extensive research into the hazards of in-flight usages, with potential solutions as well. These findings will be published by mid-2007.

However, even if the FCC were to reverse its ban, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration still has a long standing policy prohibiting usage of transmitting electronics in-flight. While the FCC's in-flight ban is largely credited to air-to-ground interference, the FAA's ban on cell phones is due to the hazard of air-to-air and in-cabin interference.

The FAA's mobile device guidelines at least partially influenced the FCC's decision to abandon its exploratory research. "The Commission also noted that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) on airborne aircraft," the FCC stated. "Given the lack of technical information in the record upon which we may base a decision, we have determined at this time that this proceeding should be terminated."

There is still a loophole in the FCC and FAA bans. Aircraft-specific services, like Connexion, may operate under the spectrums allocated by the two agencies.



The Devil's Advocate
News is news ... it is imp for us to know what are the rules abroad ... i hope TRAI takes a few pointers from the FCC
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