Comcast agrees to pay Californa £21m for privacy violations

Comcast has reached an agreement with the state of California and will pay $33 million (£21m) for accidentally publishing personal details of customers online, even though they had paid the company to keep their data private.

According to a report by Reuters, Comcast has come to an agreement with the California Department of Justice and the California Public Utilities Commission, and will pay $25 million (£16m) in penalties and investigative costs to the to the two departments, and another $8 million (£5.11m) to customers whose numbers were improperly disclosed.

Each customer affected will receive $100 (£64).

"This settlement provides meaningful relief to victims (and) brings greater transparency to Comcast's privacy practices," state Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement on Thursday.

The departments alleged that Comcast had posted names, phone numbers and addresses of "tens of thousands" of customers who had paid for unlisted voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone service.

Comcast will refund all fees paid for unlisted service to about 75,000 customers whose information was disclosed over a two-year period.

The breach happened five years ago, back in 2010. The breach of confidential information affected more than 74,000 individuals and households in California—over half of Comcast's users in California with unlisted numbers. While the breach hit California the hardest, it also occurred with Comcast customers in other states.

These customers were paying Comcast every month to keep their personal information out of public databases. Many of these customers rely on having a non-published number to withhold their names, telephone numbers, and addresses from public lists, not only to preserve their privacy, but to protect their safety.