CNN A year of new data from US telecommunications companies has revealed that their network operations and practices have been under constant scrutiny by regulators and the public.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the results of an investigation into the industry’s communications infrastructure on Thursday.
It has found that AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable are using different methods of collecting and sharing data to target advertising customers.
AT&) and Verizon have been accused of using their network equipment to monitor the internet traffic of their subscribers, in violation of FCC rules.
The agency said that data collected from their networks is not available to the public for the purpose of “privacy or integrity of the internet.”
The data was collected over the past five years by the three companies as part of their joint venture with the telecom industry, which also owns the spectrum that powers the internet.
In its investigation, the FCC said that the three telecoms have been using “invasive methods of accessing the internet” in order to collect data from their subscribers.
The FCC also found that Comcast was not following its own privacy policies, and had not paid its data customers for the right to share the data.
“We found that, even though the data collection practices are not as intrusive as those of some of the major US telecoms, they nevertheless provide an unprecedented level of privacy for all of the data they collect and retain,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.
“That is a significant concern.”
“The data collection methods used by these three companies violate FCC privacy rules, and we’re concerned about how they are being used and for what purpose,” Pai added.
“Data collected from AT&s network includes all internet traffic, including all internet content and user behavior, which is not disclosed to the consumer.”
The investigation also found AT>, Verizon and Comcast were not disclosing the information they collected to the FCC or to other privacy advocates.
“It is important to note that our investigation found that the data was being used to target consumers and advertisers based on their personal information and not because the companies believed it was necessary to deliver targeted advertising to them,” the FCC wrote.
The agency did not reveal any names of the telecom companies or how much the data is worth.
The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pai has said he is concerned about the privacy violations in the industry.
The FCC is also investigating whether the data collected is being shared with the government.
The commission has been working on its transparency report since it was approved by the House of Representatives in February, and it is scheduled to be released later this year.
It will detail the privacy practices of the US telecommunications industry, and how it affects consumers.