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The Cable Communications Policy Act
The Cable Communications Policy Act (47 U.S.C. 521 et seq.) restricts the collection, maintenance, and
dissemination of subscriber data by operators of cable systems. It prohibits
cable operators from using cable systems to collect personally identifiable
information about any subscriber without prior consent, unless the
information is needed to render service or detect unauthorized reception.
The Act also prohibits operators from disclosing personally identifiable data to
third parties without consent, unless the disclosure is either necessary to
render a service provided by the cable operator to the subscriber or if it is
made to a government entity pursuant to a court order.
Especially in a world of growing entertainment options, the Cable
Communications Policy Act needlessly prevents consumers and cable operators from
coming to agreement on what kinds and amounts of data can be collected via cable
systems. As we have seen on the Internet, valuable customer and viewer information
allows content to be delivered cheaply, often for free. Cable systems, which
unfortunately seem to charge chronically high rates, could lower their prices to
consumers if they were allowed to collect and use some consumer information. This
type of innovation, any agreement that benefits both cable consumers and operators,
can not come into being under the Act. The cable industry should not be singled out
for regulation that puts it at a competitive disadvantage to other media.
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