Focusing public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues

Cable TV Privacy Act of 1984

47 USC Sec. 551 01/24/94
   TITLE 47 - TELEGRAPHS, TELEPHONES, AND RADIOTELEGRAPHS
   CHAPTER 5 - WIRE OR RADIO COMMUNICATION
   SUBCHAPTER V-A - CABLE COMMUNICATIONS
   Part IV - Miscellaneous Provisions

Sec. 551. Protection of subscriber privacy


-STATUTE-

   (a) Notice to subscriber regarding personally identifiable
       information; definitions

     (1) At the time of entering into an agreement to provide any
   cable service or other service to a subscriber and at least once a
   year thereafter, a cable operator shall provide notice in the form
   of a separate, written statement to such subscriber which clearly
   and conspicuously informs the subscriber of -

       (A) the nature of personally identifiable information collected
     or to be collected with respect to the subscriber and the nature
     of the use of such information;

       (B) the nature, frequency, and purpose of any disclosure which
     may be made of such information, including an identification of
     the types of persons to whom the disclosure may be made;

       (C) the period during which such information will be maintained
     by the cable operator;

       (D) the times and place at which the subscriber may have access
     to such information in accordance with subsection (d) of this
     section; and

       (E) the limitations provided by this section with respect to
     the collection and disclosure of information by a cable operator
     and the right of the subscriber under subsections (f) and (h) of
     this section to enforce such limitations.

   In the case of subscribers who have entered into such an agreement
   before the effective date of this section, such notice shall be
   provided within 180 days of such date and at least once a year
   thereafter.

     (2) For purposes of this section, other than subsection (h) of
   this section -

       (A) the term ''personally identifiable information'' does not
     include any record of aggregate data which does not identify
     particular persons;

       (B) the term ''other service'' includes any wire or radio
     communications service provided using any of the facilities of a
     cable operator that are used in the provision of cable service;
     and

       (C) the term ''cable operator'' includes, in addition to
     persons within the definition of cable operator in section 522 of
     this title, any person who (i) is owned or controlled by, or
     under common ownership or control with, a cable operator, and

     (ii) provides any wire or radio communications service.

   (b) Collection of personally identifiable information using cable
       system

     (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a cable operator shall
   not use the cable system to collect personally identifiable
   information concerning any subscriber without the prior written or
   electronic consent of the subscriber concerned.

     (2) A cable operator may use the cable system to collect such
   information in order to -

       (A) obtain information necessary to render a cable service or
     other service provided by the cable operator to the subscriber;
     or

       (B) detect unauthorized reception of cable communications.

   (c) Disclosure of personally identifiable information

     (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a cable operator shall
   not disclose personally identifiable information concerning any
   subscriber without the prior written or electronic consent of the
   subscriber concerned and shall take such actions as are necessary
   to prevent unauthorized access to such information by a person
   other than the subscriber or cable operator.

     (2) A cable operator may disclose such information if the
   disclosure is -

       (A) necessary to render, or conduct a legitimate business
     activity related to, a cable service or other service provided by
     the cable operator to the subscriber;

       (B) subject to subsection (h) of this section, made pursuant to
     a court order authorizing such disclosure, if the subscriber is
     notified of such order by the person to whom the order is
     directed; or

       (C) a disclosure of the names and addresses of subscribers to
     any cable service or other service, if -

         (i) the cable operator has provided the subscriber the
       opportunity to prohibit or limit such disclosure, and

         (ii) the disclosure does not reveal, directly or indirectly,
       the -

           (I) extent of any viewing or other use by the subscriber of
         a cable service or other service provided by the cable
         operator, or

           (II) the nature of any transaction made by the subscriber
         over the cable system of the cable operator.

   (d) Subscriber access to information

     A cable subscriber shall be provided access to all personally
   identifiable information regarding that subscriber which is
   collected and maintained by a cable operator.  Such information
   shall be made available to the subscriber at reasonable times and
   at a convenient place designated by such cable operator.  A cable
   subscriber shall be provided reasonable opportunity to correct any
   error in such information.

   (e) Destruction of information
     A cable operator shall destroy personally identifiable
   information if the information is no longer necessary for the
   purpose for which it was collected and there are no pending
   requests or orders for access to such information under subsection

   (d) of this section or pursuant to a court order.

   (f) Civil action in United States district court; damages;

       attorney's fees and costs; nonexclusive nature of remedy

     (1) Any person aggrieved by any act of a cable operator in
   violation of this section may bring a civil action in a United
   States district court.

     (2) The court may award -
  
     (A) actual damages but not less than liquidated damages
     computed at the rate of $100 a day for each day of violation or
     $1,000, whichever is higher;

       (B) punitive damages; and

       (C) reasonable attorneys' fees and other litigation costs
     reasonably incurred.

     (3) The remedy provided by this section shall be in addition to
   any other lawful remedy available to a cable subscriber.

   (g) Regulation by States or franchising authorities
     Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to prohibit any
   State or any franchising authority from enacting or enforcing laws
   consistent with this section for the protection of subscriber
   privacy.

   (h) Disclosure of information to governmental entity pursuant to
       court order

     A governmental entity may obtain personally identifiable
   information concerning a cable subscriber pursuant to a court order
   only if, in the court proceeding relevant to such court order -

       (1) such entity offers clear and convincing evidence that the
     subject of the information is reasonably suspected of engaging in
     criminal activity and that the information sought would be
     material evidence in the case; and

       (2) the subject of the information is afforded the opportunity
     to appear and contest such entity's claim.



-SOURCE-

   (June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title VI, Sec. 631, as added Oct. 30,
   1984, Pub. L. 98-549, Sec. 2, 98 Stat. 2794; amended Oct. 5, 1992,
   Pub. L. 102-385, Sec. 20, 106 Stat. 1497.)

-REFTEXT-

                            REFERENCES IN TEXT

     For ''the effective date of this section'', referred to in
   subsec. (a)(1), as 60 days after Oct. 30, 1984, except where
   otherwise expressly provided, see section 9(a) of Pub. L. 98-549,
   set out as an Effective Date note under section 521 of this title.

-MISC2-

                                AMENDMENTS

     1992 - Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 102-385, Sec. 20(a), amended par.
   (2) generally.  Prior to amendment, par. (2) read as follows: ''For
   purposes of this section, the term 'personally identifiable
   information' does not include any record of aggregate data which
   does not identify particular persons.''

     Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 102-385, Sec. 20(b), inserted before
   period at end ''and shall take such actions as are necessary to
   prevent unauthorized access to such information by a person other
   than the subscriber or cable operator''.

                     EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1992 AMENDMENT

     Amendment by Pub. L. 102-385 effective 60 days after Oct. 5,
   1992, see section 28 of Pub. L. 102-385, set out as a note under
   section 325 of this title.

                              EFFECTIVE DATE

     Section effective 60 days after Oct. 30, 1984, except where
   otherwise expressly provided, see section 9(a) of Pub. L. 98-549,
   set out as a note under section 521 of this title.