The $25 Million Fine Isn’t The Real AT&T-FCC Story

Great. Now with net neutrality, above and beyond, the FCC may act on the behalf of ‘privacy’ regulations too. NSA, FBI, the list goes on in just how the U.S. government cares about privacy…

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Editor’s Note: J. Trevor Hughes is the president and chief executive officer of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

It’s easy to focus on big financial penalties. All of us intuitively feel the pain of writing the FCC a check for $25 million. But if you’re focusing on the monetary pay out in the FCC’s consent agreement with AT&T for a data privacy lapse, you’re missing the real story.

First, you need to be paying more attention to the agency that’s doing the fining here: the Federal Communications Commission. Notably, when President Obama launched his Privacy Bill of Rights effort in January of this year, he did it from within the bowels of the Federal Trade Commission, as the FTC has traditionally been the privacy cop on the beat serving and protecting U.S. consumers.

However, the FCC has now placed a badge firmly on its chest by delivering the…

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