A Summary of Privacy Issues for Broadcasters and Other Media Companies - A Presentation to the Texas Association of Broadcasters


Legal issues regarding privacy have long been an issue for broadcasters and other media companies. Traditionally, privacy concerns for media companies have arisen in the context of news gathering, advertising or other on-air content that either was gathered in a way that intruded on someone's privacy, or which used private facts or personal images, without consent, for commercial purposes. As technology developed, privacy related issues followed. There are legal restrictions setting out rules about using automated calling (or texting) for commercial purposes to people who have not consented, sending faxes to persons who have not given you permission to use their fax numbers, and sending unsolicited emails. Online, the issues increase, with rules or policies in existence or in development. There long have been rules about collecting personal information about children under the age of 13 (under COPPA - the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, see information about a recent enforcement action here). Other laws govern the need to keep secure any private information that you collect about others - like credit card information that you may collect from advertising clients or listeners who buy merchandise or other goods from the station (everything from tee shirts to Groupon-like coupons). And recently, there have been a number of lawsuits and government actions targeting the collection and unauthorized use of personally identifiable information about website visitors (or those using a station App) without knowledge or consent. All of these issues were discussed during a webinar that Ronnie London and I conducted for the Texas Association of Broadcasters. The slides from that session, providing a good outline of many of the basic legal issues that arise in connection with privacy issues, are available here (see alert below for links).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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