Legislation on PII in the 80s: The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984

The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Pub.L. 98–549, 98 Stat. 2779 (1984) (codified at 47 U.S.C. § 551) requires a cable service provider to provide notice to a subscriber at the time of the initiation of service, and for one year thereafter, of the nature of personally identifiable information collected from the subscriber and how it is used.


This is a notable case of the United States federal government placing restrictions on how big companies use PII. It's useful to be able to say that even back on the era of cable television, the CCPA placed the onus on cable companies to let people know how their personal data would be used. The CCPA requires cable companies to do the following:

  1. Disclose to whom the personal data is given.

  2. Disclose how long the cable company will retain the personal data.

  3. State when and where the cable subscriber can access his or her personal data.

  4. Give the subscriber the opportunity to correct his or her data.

  5. Destroy personal data when it is no longer necessary for a business purpose or needed for a response under the Act or a court order.

Aggregate data in which a person cannot be identified is not covered by CCPA. The personal information the cable company did collect was to be used for the purpose of providing cable services, or detecting the unauthorized reception of cable television. The Act allows for personal information to be disclosed pursuant to a court order.


The CCPA also allows subscribers to bring civil actions in federal courts for damages of $100 for each day a violation exists or for $1000, whichever is higher.