February 13, 2009 / 8:25 PM / 11 years ago

Court denies cable bid to turn back privacy rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday denied a bid by the cable industry to overrule privacy rules that make it more difficult for them to share subscribers’ personal information with other parties.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a petition by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which argued that federal rules on telecom carriers’ use of customer data violated free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution, federal law or both.

At issue are rules set by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that mandate telecommunications carriers must get an “opt-in” before disclosing customers’ information to a carrier’s joint venture business partner or an independent contractor.

The FCC “gave sufficient reasons for singling out the relationships between carriers and third-party marketing partners,” the court said in denying the petition for judicial review sought by the NCTA.

The cable group’s spokesman, Brian Dietz, said it is disappointed with the ruling, but could not comment on whether the group would appeal.

FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps said the rules are needed to protect consumers.

“Telephone carriers today handle vast amounts of their customers’ personal information, and in light of documented abuses of consumers’ privacy, the Commission appropriately required carriers to institute additional safeguards to protect customers’ personal information,” Copps said in a statement.

The cable trade group’s members sell local phone service using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology. Cable companies have about 18 million phone subscribers nationally, according to NCTA.

Verizon Communications <VZ.N, one of the biggest telephone and mobile phone companies, had backed the cable industry’s petition.

Editing by Brian Moss; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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