Comcast has reached a $33.4 million settlement with the California Public Utilities Commission, regarding the privacy violations of its users. Comcast posted the names, phone numbers, and addresses of about 75,000 customers who had specifically paid a monthly fee in order to have their numbers remain unlisted. The privacy violations occurred between July 2010 and December 2012. Customers paid between $1.25 and $1.50 a month to maintain their privacy.
The settlement includes $12.5 million to be paid to the state’s general fund as well as $12.5 million to be paid to the state Attorney General’s office. $8.4 million will be paid out to customers who had their privacy violated by Comcast. Although Comcast has already reimbursed the monthly fees of current customers who had their privacy violated, they still need to track down and reimburse former customers, which accounts for $517,714 of the settlement.
All current and former customers affected by this will receive an additional $100, for a total of $7,477,400. Another $432,000 will be paid out by Comcast to fund home security services for 216 customers who had safety concerns related to this exposure of private information. These individuals include victims of domestic violence and other crimes as well as witnesses in criminal cases, all of whom had very important reasons to keep their contact information unlisted.
Commissioner Catherine Sandoval released a statement saying, “It is imperative that customer complaints be quickly addressed and that systems are established to identify and correct the root cause of the problem and protect consumer privacy. This settlement requires enhanced protection of consumer data, and increased transparency about how that data is used.”
Comcast said in its own statement on the matter, “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Attorney General’s office that brings this matter to closure. While this matter was operationally resolved nearly three years ago, it has always been our goal to find a solution that works for all parties and for the customers who were impacted by this error. We value and work hard to protect our customers’ privacy, and we apologize to anyone who was impacted by this.”
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