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FCC Proposes Tighter Data Breach Reporting Rules for Wireless Carriers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing tighter rules on the reporting of data breaches by wireless carriers.

The updated rules, the FCC says, will fall in line with recent changes in federal and state laws regarding data breaches in other sectors.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing tighter rules on the reporting of data breaches by wireless carriers.

The updated rules, the FCC says, will fall in line with recent changes in federal and state laws regarding data breaches in other sectors.

FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel initially shared the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with the Commission in January 2022. The FCC has now launched a formal proceeding to gather information on this issue and is accepting comments on the proposed rule changes.

The updated telecommunications carrier breach notification requirements would eliminate the current seven business day mandatory waiting period for sending data breach notifications to customers, unless required by law enforcement agencies.

The FCC also proposes that “inadvertent access, use, or disclosures of customer information” be included in the definition of a ‘data breach’, meaning that wireless carriers would have to notify customers of inadvertent breaches as well.

“We propose to revise our definition to define a breach as any instance in which a person, without authorization or exceeding authorization, has gained access to, used, or disclosed CPNI,” the NPRM reads.

Furthermore, the update proposes that the FCC, FBI, and US Secret Service are notified of all reportable breaches, and that the reporting be done through a centralized reporting facility maintained by the Commission.

Furthermore, the FCC asks for the public opinion on the specific categories of information to be included in customer breach notices, to ensure that these notifications contain actionable details.

“We seek comment on whether we should require customer breach notifications to include specific minimum categories of information. Our current rules specify when and to whom breach notifications must be made, but do not address the content of such notifications,” the proposed update reads.

The Commission also proposes that similar changes be made to telecommunications relay services (TRS) data breach reporting rules, to ensure ‘equivalent privacy protection for TRS users’.

“The (current) law requires carriers to protect sensitive consumer information but, given the increase in frequency, sophistication, and scale of data leaks, we must update our rules to protect consumers and strengthen reporting requirements,” FCC chairwoman Rosenworcel said.

Related: US States Announce $16M Settlement With Experian, T-Mobile Over Data Breaches

Related: CISO Conversations: Verizon, AT&T CISOs Talk Communications Sector Security

Related: UScellular Breach Allowed Hackers to Port Customer Phone Numbers

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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