Qwest Says 'Privacy Interests' Could Impede Societal Goals
5:47 AM, Feb 11, 2002
Qwest Communications International has scrapped
plans to share customer information among its divisions, but says
in federal documents that privacy is not an absolute customer
Qwest in January withdrew the plans after a backlash by
thousands of customers upset about their account information being
given out. The Denver-based phone company said it will wait until
the Federal Communications Commission issues new rules on customer
records later this year before developing another plan.
In documents filed in November with the FCC, Qwest defended its
right to share customer information even with outside companies
until customers ask that it not be disclosed.
Qwest and other phone companies contend the marketplace should
determine how much information sharing is appropriate. The data
include which numbers customers call, how long they talk and how
much they spend.
Qwest spokesman Bill Myers said Qwest was drawing on previous
court rulings in making its comments. When Qwest talked about
sharing information with third parties, it was referring only to
information it is required to share by law, he said.
"Overbroad assertions of 'privacy interests' could well impede
bona fide commercial and societal goals," Qwest said in its
Qwest, responding to questions about the filings, said they are
legal briefs that can't be compared with statements the company
makes about its policies.
"Any business anywhere always wants to make the best argument
for the policy it thinks will be the most effective within the
bounds of the law," said Art Brodsky, Qwest's spokesman in
Washington, D.C. "You want to put the best case forward."
Such filings don't preclude Qwest from making a decision that's
different from the argument it makes to the FCC, he said.
Some elected officials in Qwest's 14-state region have said the
company should adopt an "opt-in" approach, meaning customers
would have to give their OK before the information could be
Before yanking its plan, Qwest required customers to notify the
company if they didn't want the data released.