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FCC proposes new data breach notification requirements

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security FCC Data Breach Consumer Protection

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On January 6, the FCC announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to launch a formal proceeding for strengthening the Commission’s rules for notifying customers and federal law enforcement of breaches of customer proprietary network information (CPNI). FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that “given the increase in frequency, sophistication, and scale of data leaks, we must update our rules to protect consumers and strengthen reporting requirements.” She commented that the “new proceeding will take a much-needed, fresh look at our data breach reporting rules to better protect consumers, increase security, and reduce the impact of future breaches.” The NPRM, which seeks to improve alignment with recent developments in federal and state data breach laws covering other sectors, would require telecommunications providers to notify impacted customers of CPNI breaches without unreasonable delay, thus eliminating the current seven business day mandatory waiting period for notifying customers of a breach.

Among other things, the FCC requests feedback on whether to establish a specific timeframe (e.g. a requirement to report breaches of customers’ data within 24 or 72 hours of discovery of a breach) or whether a disclosure deadline should vary based on a graduated scale of severity. The FCC also seeks comments on whether a carrier should “be held to have ‘reasonably determined’ a breach has occurred when it has information indicating that it is more likely than not that there was a breach,” and whether the Commission should publish guidance on what constitutes a reasonable determination or adopt a more definite standard. Feedback is also solicited on topics such as threshold triggers, what should be included in a security breach notification, the delivery method of these notifications, and whether to expand the definition of a data breach to also include inadvertent disclosures. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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