Press Release

#SubCommTech Examines Protecting CPNI in the Internet Age



The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), held a hearing today on protecting customer proprietary network information, or CPNI, in today’s digital marketplace across a range of communications networks. 


#SubCommTech Chairman Blackburn said, “Over 20 years ago, Congress realized the importance of protecting the confidentiality of customer proprietary network information, or CPNI, when consumers used the primary method for instantaneous communication: telephone calls. The rules that the FCC initially adopted to implement the statutory CPNI requirements only covered information from traditional call records, but over time, these protections have evolved to cover new forms of communication—like interconnected voice over IP (VoIP) calls and even information collected by telecommunications carriers on mobile devices.”

In his opening statement, full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) added, “We have companies now that provide live communication, act as content producers and publishers, and aggregate data – all in one package – and the old rules just don’t fit the today’s paradigms. … Today, we need to thoughtfully consider how effective the old protections under CPNI are in today’s information sharing world.” 


  • Hance Haney, Director and Senior Fellow, Technology and Democracy Project, Discovery Institute (Opening Statement)
  • The Honorable Robert McDowell, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; former Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission (Opening Statement)
  • Laura Moy, Deputy Director, Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology (Opening Statement)


“An app can actually collect more data than a carrier would have access to. For instance, if you scan a UPC code, the price of something in a supermarket, there’s an app that can tell if you if there’s a better deal nearby. So it knows where you are, it knows what you are buying, it knows your price points, it knows a lot about you all of a sudden. … There are a lot of aspects there that carriers don’t necessarily have access to. The data that CPNI governs is a subset of all the other information that apps collect.” – The Honorable Robert McDowell.

The rules are out of date. They were designed not only to protect consumer expectations, but they were also designed to try to allocate competitive advantages and competitive disadvantages in the marketplace as new entrants joined the market to compete with traditional incumbents. That dynamic is no longer relevant, and so I believe that the rules can and should be updated. But I do think it’s important that the rules should apply equally to everyone. Every provider in the internet ecosystem is in a position to see and collect information about consumers, some of it sensitive.”Mr. Hance Haney.


The Majority Memorandum, witness testimony, and an archived webcast are available online HERE

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