General Privacy Principles
Explaining the Guidelines
These ten Principles express Verizon's commitment to assuring strong and meaningful customer privacy protection in an era of rapidly changing communications technology and applications. The Principles are guidelines to help us work with our customers to properly use individual information acquired through a variety of lines of businesses. The goal is simple: balance our customers' concerns about privacy with their interest in receiving quality service and useful new products.
The Principles are based on the concepts of notice, choice and control. Verizon is committed to informing customers, and giving customers choices, about how we use information about them. Above all, the Principles are designed to ensure that Verizon will respect a customer's desire for privacy.
These Principles apply to our use of "individual customer information," that is, information about specific customers. Information that does not reveal a customer's identity is not individual customer information. For example, "aggregated information," such as the number of customers who have purchased Call Waiting in a particular state, or the number of users to access a Web site in a particular day, does not raise privacy concerns and is not covered by these Principles.
Information Collection and UsePrinciple 1:
Verizon obtains and uses individual customer information for business purposes only.
We obtain information about our customers that helps to provide them with Verizon services. This information may also be used to protect customers, employees and property against fraud, theft or abuse; to conduct industry or consumer surveys; and to maintain good customer relations.
We may ask customers questions to better serve their special needs and interests. For example, our telephone company may ask whether customers work at home, whether any members of the household have special needs, or whether teenagers reside in the household, in order to determine whether customers may be interested in additional lines, ISDN or other services.
Access to databases containing customer information is limited to employees who need it to perform their jobs -- and they follow strict rules when handling that information.Back to Top
Verizon informs customers how information Verizon obtains about them is used, as well as their options regarding its use.
Verizon discloses to customers the types of information a Verizon business unit obtains about customers, how and when it is used, when it might be disclosed, the stringent measures we employ to protect it, and ways the customer can restrict the use or disclosure of that information.
For customers of our online services, we will disclose how individual customer information is obtained (whether through customer registration or through automatic means), what kind of information is obtained, and the purpose for which we use the information obtained on line.
Verizon gives customers opportunities to control how and if Verizon uses individual information about them to sell them products and services.
Customers have many opportunities to control how we use their individual information to introduce them to new products and services. For example, Verizon will not call customers who have expressed to us a preference not to be called for marketing purposes. Customers can also have their names removed from direct mail lists that we use. The same will be true for email; if any Verizon business unit decides to use email to send new product information to its customers.
However, we do use individual customer information internally for our own general marketing and planning purposes -- so that we can, for example, develop, test and market new products and services that meet the needs of our customers. Ordinarily, such information is combined into aggregations that do not include individual customer identities. Under certain circumstances, we are required by law to disclose the aggregated information to other companies, but in such cases customer identities are not included.Back to Top
Disclosure of Individual Customer InformationPrinciple 4:
Verizon enables customers to control how and if Verizon discloses individual information about them to other persons or entities, except as required by law or to protect the safety of customers, employees or property.
Subject to legal and safety exceptions, Verizon will share individual customer information only with persons or entities outside the company when the customer has consented, or when we have advised the customer of the opportunity to "opt-out" (to choose not to have the information disclosed).
If Verizon enters into a merger, acquisition, or sale of all or a portion of its assets, a customer's personally identifiable information will, in most instances, be transferred as a part of the transaction.
We may, where permitted by law, provide information to credit bureaus, or provide information and/or sell receivables to collection agencies, to obtain payment for Verizon billed products and services.
An example of when Verizon would disclose individual customer information to an outside entity is when Verizon is served with valid legal process for customer information. In such cases, we are required to release the information. We are also required by law to provide billing name and address information to a customer's long distance carrier and other telephone companies to allow them to bill for telecommunications services. (By law, customers with non-published or unlisted service have the right not to have their billing name and address disclosed when they make a calling card call or accept a collect or third party call.However, if they do restrict disclosure, they will be unable to make calling card calls or accept collect and third party calls.)
Similarly, we are required to provide directory publishers with listings information -- name, address and phone number -- for purposes of publishing and delivering directories. In addition, under certain circumstances, our telephone company shares customer information with other carriers and with law enforcement to prevent and investigate fraud and other unlawful use of communications services.Back to Top
Accuracy of Individual Customer InformationPrinciple 5:
Verizon strives to ensure that the information we obtain and use about customers is accurate.
Verizon is committed to ensuring that the information we obtain and use about customers is accurate. To that end, we strive to verify that our customer records are correct. Customers who find an error in their Verizon bills are encouraged to notify Verizon. Verizon's service representatives are trained to answer customer questions about, and to give customers reasonable access to, the information we have about them. Our service representatives will also provide explanations of how such information is used and how to correct any inaccuracies if they occur.Back to Top
Privacy and Verizon ServicesPrinciple 6:
Verizon considers privacy implications as new services are planned and introduced and informs customers of the privacy implications of these services.
Verizon offers several privacy-enhancing services, including Non-Published numbers, Caller ID, Caller ID With Name, Per Call Blocking, and Anonymous Call Rejection. We also work to develop other services that help customers to control access to information about them. We seek customer input in developing new products and conduct comprehensive customer outreach and education before and after introducing privacy-sensitive products. We take these steps in accordance with these Privacy Principles as well as our Universal Design Principles, which govern the accessibility of our services to the broadest possible range of diverse users.
At Verizon, we are committed to expanding the world of communications and multimedia for customers -- a world of wireline and wire-free solutions...voice, video and data services...information and entertainment. We will investigate the privacy implications these new services may have and build safeguards into services before they are introduced. We will inform and educate customers about the effect on privacy the new services may have.Back to Top
Information Management and SecurityPrinciple 7:
All Verizon employees are responsible for safeguarding individual customer communications and information.
Verizon's Employee Code of Business Conduct, which is distributed to all employees, requires Verizon personnel to be aware of and protect the privacy of all forms of customer communications -- whether they are voice, data or image transmissions -- as well as individual customer records. The Code makes clear that employees who fail to follow the Privacy Principles will face disciplinary action, which can include dismissal. All employees are trained regarding their responsibilities to safeguard customer privacy.
Verizon requires that records be safeguarded from loss, theft, unauthorized disclosure, and accidental destruction. In addition, sensitive, confidential, or proprietary records must be protected and maintained in a secure environment. It is our policy to destroy records containing sensitive, confidential, or proprietary information in a secure manner. Hard copy confidential, proprietary, or sensitive documents must be made unreadable before disposition or recycling, and electronic media must be destroyed using methods that prevent access to information stored in that type of media. Just as employees would report stolen property, missing records and suspicious incidents involving records are referred to Verizon Security.
We encourage our employees to be proactive in implementing and enforcing the Verizon's privacy policies. If employees become aware of practices that raise privacy concerns, they are encouraged to report them to their supervisors or to contact Verizon's Ethics or Security office.Back to Top
Compliance With Laws and Public Policy ParticipationPrinciple 8:
Verizon participates in and supports consumer, government and industry efforts to identify and resolve privacy issues.
We participate in legislative and regulatory proceedings, industry association efforts, consumer group efforts, and general business group activities relating to telecommunications privacy issues. Our External Affairs department is responsible for coordination of Verizon's public policy participation.
We believe that developing international privacy protection and information-use standards is necessary to protect the needs of our customers. Verizon supports the development of international standards to protect individual customer information and its proper use on a worldwide basis.Back to Top
Verizon complies with all applicable privacy laws and regulations wherever Verizon does business.
Customer and policymaker perceptions of privacy have changed over time and will continue to do so. Changes in technology can also alter what is appropriate in protecting privacy. Laws may change accordingly. We will regularly examine -- and update, if necessary -- the Verizon Privacy Principles.
Not only will Verizon comply with all applicable privacy laws, but we'll carefully monitor customer needs and expectations. And Verizon will work with policymakers and consumers to ensure that we continue to safeguard privacy, giving customers choices, flexibility and control.
Verizon considers privacy laws and regulations to be the minimum standards we will adhere to in protecting privacy. In addition to complying with the law, Verizon will also adhere to these Privacy Principles wherever we do business.Back to Top
Each Verizon company is responsible for implementing these Principles and informing customers about its privacy practices. Verizon encourages companies related to, but not wholly owned by, Verizon to adopt these Principles. Every Verizon business unit is responsible for:
Verizon's Corporate Compliance Officer is responsible for ensuring that all Verizon business units and their employees comply with privacy laws and regulations.
Verizon requires any vendors and consultants we hire, as well as suppliers and contractors, to observe these privacy rules with respect to any of our customers' individual customer information. They must abide by the Principles when conducting work for us, and they will be held accountable for their actions.Back to Top
Updated March 2007