US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) has given four major US telecom companies a September 4 ultimatum for producing a plan to improved their data collection and protection policies. Wyden had previously urged these telecom companies to limit their data collection activities
Lindsey O’Donnell filed this report published in ThreatPost:
Wyden said that current rules that are in place that surround data retention are not enough, and that the telecom companies have been able to skirt them. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires carriers to keep records of toll calls for 18 months, for instance – but Wyden alleges that firms retain records “for much longer.”
A New York Times article reports that AT&T continues to store (and supply Drug Enforcement Administration agents) with phone data from as far back as 1987. Even before that, Wyden mentioned, phone companies played a role in the Bush-era “warrantless wiretapping” program and the NSA’s surveillance of telephone metadata.
Wyden for his part urged the companies to cut their data retention period back further, to a few weeks or even a few days: “Retention periods of several years should not be the norm,” he said. The letter, which came in conjunction with a talk at DEF CON in Las Vegas entitled “Can You Track Me Now? Why The Phone Companies Are Such A Privacy Disaster,” once again thrusts data collection and usage privacy policies into the spotlight.
The letter piles pressure on these four companies, which are also facing backlash from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for their data collection policies around internet services. In March, the FTC urged companies to reveal exactly what data they’re collecting as part of their ISP arms, and requested details around how they collect, retain, use and disclose information about consumers and their devices. Specifically impacted by this request were: AT&T, AT&T Mobility, Comcast Cable/Xfinity, Google Fiber, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Communications and Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless).