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Home > Privacy and Business > Online Privacy > Select Laws and Regulations > The Telecommunications Act of 1996

The Telecommunications Act of 1996

47 U.S.C. 222 was enacted as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and is entitled "Privacy of Customer Information." It states generally that "[e]very telecommunications carrier has a duty to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information of, and relating to . . . customers." To effectuate that duty, 222 places restrictions on the use, disclosure of, and access to certain customer information.

In 1998, the Federal Communications Commission issued a regulation under this law requiring customers to opt-in before companies could use customer data to market services to which the customers did not already subscribe. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck this regulation down, finding that it was an impermissible regulation of commercial speech that violated the First Amendment.


U.S. West v. FCC, No. 98-9518 (10th Cir. 1999)

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[updated 02/19/01]

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