Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wireless Phone Contracts and Privacy (Part One)

Privacy is one of the most important issues that should be considered when you are considering signing a mobile phone contract. You have to know that you're carrier will be able to protect your privacy and ensure that your calls are safe.

Let us look at some wireless phone contracts and examine some the conditions that deal with the issue of privacy. However, I thinks that it's important to examine a privacy term that is used in some of these contracts. I found that the Customer Proprietary Network Information, or CPNI is a term that is being used in these agreements.

CPNI or Customer Proprietary Network Information refers to the information collected from you that is made available your carrier solely by virtue of their relationship with you. This information includes the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, and amount of your use of the telecommunications services you purchased.

Now that you have an idea about CPNI let's proceed to what the carriers say about it. Let us begin with Alltel's privacy policy. Their terms and conditions states that,
You authorize us to monitor and record communications to us regarding your account or the Services for purposes of quality assurance. We will not give you notice of any subpoenas or court orders related to your account or use of Services unless required by law. Information in our billing and customer care systems concerning your account and your use of Services belongs to us, and you have no expectation of privacy with respect to such information. You agree that we may release information we have about you when required to do so by law, to provide to third parties solely for the purpose of assisting us in providing any Service to you, or if we reasonably believe that an emergency involving immediate harm to a person or property requires disclosure. We may analyze your account and usage information and share this information with other Alltel entities to communicate with you regarding Equipment or Services that may become available to you. If you do not want us to provide your information to other Alltel entities for this purpose, please notify us.
If you are an Alltell subscriber, then you should remember that unless required by law, your carrier will not send you any information about any subpoenas or court orders related to your account or use of Services. Your carrier also gives you the option of resfusing them the right to analyze your account and usage information and share it with other Alltel entities to communicate with you regarding Equipment or Services.

Let us take a look at AT&T's take on consumer privacy. Now the thing with ATT is that they have merged with Cingular. They are currently updating their privacy policies as they continue to consolidate and re-brand the company from Cingular to AT&T. As of now, the Cingular privacy policy continues to apply to wireless services provided by AT&T. OK, now on to the policy. AT&T's privacy policy states that,
We will not sell or disclose your personal information to unaffiliated third parties without your consent except as otherwise provided in this Policy. We may use information about who you are, where and when you browse on the Web, where your wireless device is located, and how you use our network to provide you better service and enrich your user experience when you sign up or use any of our products or services.
This means that your consent is needed to allow AT&T to provide third parties with info about you. Now this is just a piece of their policy and I will not dwell on it too long because it is still under revision to cope with the Cingular merger. Tune in to AT&T if you want the latest on their privacy policy.

Let us move on to Sprint Nextel's stance on the issue of consumer privacy. According to their website, their company is
"committed to protecting the privacy of our customers. We only disclose customer information when necessary to comply with the law. We also have a variety of safeguards in place that protect against unauthorized access to our systems.
Your privacy is safe with this company except if the law requires information about you. You will also bebnfit from the safe guards that the company installed to preserve and protect your private and personal information. However, you have to remember thatCustomer Care contact information differs between customers served on Sprint systems and Nextel systems. You might want to check out Privacy at Sprint and Nextel to get more information about this topic.

I'm going to explore the privacy policies of other wireless service providers in my next post. I hoped I provided you with valuable info and links that will lead you to the data you seek.

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