Verizon Gets Reprieve From Opt-In Rules

Verizon has won a temporary reprieve from a Washington state law requiring common carriers to obtain opt-in permission before sharing consumer data for marketing anything except telecommunications services.

On Feb. 10, U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein in Seattle ruled to suspend the Washington law, which took effect Jan. 1, because Verizon raised “serious questions” about its constitutionality. The rule remains suspended until the legal battle over the constitutionality issue is resolved.

Federal Communications Commission rules require phone companies to give customers a chance to opt out of having their account information shared. However, the policy proved a quagmire for Qwest Communications, another telephone service provider that generated a storm of controversy in 2001 after it sent customers letters alerting them that their information would be shared if they failed to act.

After consumer complaints in areas served by Qwest drew the attention of state attorneys general and state lawmakers, Qwest backed down last year and switched to an opt-in policy. Verizon also ceased its opt-out policy at the time.

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