Verizon has agreed to pay the US Treasury $7.4m to settle an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission into its failure to tell customers that it was using their personal information for marketing purposes.
"In today's increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices," said Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.
"It is plainly unacceptable for any phone company to use its customers' personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out."
Verizon maintains an opt-out policy on slurping up user data for marketing, meaning it can harvest what it likes unless the customer explicitly says it can't. The FCC found that for several years beginning in 2006, Verizon had failed to inform over two million customers of their right to keep their information private.
The company noticed that it wasn't informing customers of their privacy rights in September 2012, yet didn't inform the FCC until 126 days later, instead of the five business days mandated by telecommunications regulations.
In addition to shelling out for the fine, Verizon has agreed to add a notice informing customers of their privacy rights to every bill for the next three years. It has also agreed that it will conduct regular testing of its systems to make sure its billing system and opt-out notices are in good working order. ®