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Home > Privacy and Business > Privacy Law Governing the Private Sector > Select Statutes > The Cable Communications Policy Act

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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[updated 8/29/00]

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