Comcast Agrees to Pay $26 Million for Privacy Breach and Hazardous Waste Dumping

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Comcast Cable Communications, the worst company in America, has agreed to pay $25.95 million to the state of California for a decade of misdeeds, including dumping hazardous waste and documents with customers’ personal information where they shouldn’t be dumped.

The proposed settlement (pdf) was announced by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley. It requires approval of a Superior Court judge.

Comcast was accused of dumping personal records in landfills since 2005 without any shredding or redaction of sensitive information, including customer names, addresses and telephone numbers. The complaint (pdf) was filed after a whistleblower came forward in 2010.

Company facilities throughout the state regularly tossed routers, splitters, modems, used remote controls, amplifiers and other electronic gear into landfills that didn’t have the proper permits to handle hazardous products. There were also aerosol cans, mercury lamps, batteries, Freon, sealants, paints, lubricants and adhesives.

The settlement includes a civil penalty and costs of $19.85 million plus $3 million to pay for environmental and consumer protection. Another $2.4 million is earmarked for public service announcements telling other folks not to do what Comcast has already done. The company must spend $700,000 on improving their own environmental practices.

Comcast agreed to pay $2.1 million more than AT&T did last November for nine years of illegal dumping of hazardous components by 235 facilities. But AT&T didn’t get caught exposing customers to identity theft. Neither company admitted any wrongdoing as part of their settlements.

Walgreens paid $16.6 million in 2012 for similar shenanigans. Safeway, CVS, Target and other companies have also been dinged.

After the AT&T settlement, Liza Tucker at Consumer Watchdog said, “They're being fined what amounts to chump change for a company like AT&T, and the public is not going to be protected in the end because wherever they've illegally disposed of that waste, it's going to stay there.”    

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Comcast to Pay $25.95 Million for Dumping Hazardous Waste, Private Information (by Malaika Fraley, Bay Area Newsgroup)

Comcast Hit with $26M Penalty for Dumping Hazardous Waste AND Revealing Personal Customer Info (by Chris Morran, Consumerist)

Comcast to Pay $26 Million for Illegally Dumping Old Equipment (by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle)

California Reaches $26-Million Settlement with Comcast over Electronic Waste (by Meg James, Los Angeles Times)

AT&T Agrees to Pay “Chump Change” for Nine Years of Hazardous Waste Dumping (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

$25.95 Million Settlement with Comcast over Hazardous Waste Disposal and Privacy Violations (California Attorney General’s office)

The State of California v. Comcast Cable Communications (Complaint in Alameda County Superior Court) (pdf)

The State of California v. Comcast Cable Communications (Proposed deal in Alameda County Superior Court) (pdf)

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