FAQs About Privacy at CenturyLink

Table of Contents

Does CenturyLink's Privacy Policy apply to all of its customers?

Yes. It applies to our residential and business customers. And it applies to all customers who use services provided under the CenturyLink brand, whether those services were previously provided by CenturyTel, Embarq, Qwest or some other company. In many cases, most often in the business context and with respect to certain services like Digital Vault (our data backup service), there may also be written agreements such as a contract, Terms and Conditions, Acceptable Use Policy, Website User Agreement, or other legally binding document that contain specific provisions related to data collection, use, sharing or provisions related to confidentiality and information security. In these cases, the terms of the written agreement will apply. Also, a separate privacy notice applies to our CenturyTel TeleVideo and Teleview cable television service, which is separate from our partnership with DirecTV. Other privacy policies may apply to specific services that we offer under our name. If they do, we'll note that in the agreements that apply to those services.

In all other instances, the terms of this Privacy Policy apply.

What does CenturyLink do if there is an unauthorized disclosure of customer information or a security breach?

Despite CenturyLink's best efforts to protect customer information, no program is 100% secure and we cannot guarantee that our safeguards will prevent every unauthorized access, use or disclosure of personal information (for example, as a result of the malicious or unlawful activities of others or human error). When the information involves Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) (which is information about the telecommunications services you subscribe to and how you use them), we report the unauthorized disclosure to the Department of Justice as required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A number of other laws require us to notify individuals or state agencies of certain kinds of unauthorized disclosures. We comply with those laws too. And we look at each situation involving an unauthorized disclosure to determine if individuals should be notified even if there is no legal obligation for notice.

If you think information about you or others has been disclosed without proper authorization, please contact our Privacy Group, or write us at:


Does CenturyLink sell my personal information to third parties who use it for marketing?

We may sell limited personal information such as published names, addresses and telephone numbers to others for their own marketing or to create marketing lists. To choose not to be included on lists that may be used by others for marketing, click here.

And we provide name, address and telephone number information to directory assistance providers as required by FCC rules, and charge a fee. Under those rules, the only restrictions we can put on use by directory assistance providers are previously identified customer imposed limitations (such as a non-published or do not market status). Directory Assistance providers must abide by those customer imposed restrictions.

We also make personal information available to other carriers who provide local or long distance service and who state they have our customer's approval to access and use it. These providers may use the information to market to our customers.

And we allow credit evaluation and reporting businesses that we share information with to keep the information in their databases for their business purposes. We may also allow companies to match information provided to them by their potential customers with name and address information in our databases to confirm the identity of their potential customers, and the length of time they have had service with us.

We may let advertisers know whether we provide you Internet access based on a geographic attribute to enable them to target ads to you on that basis. You will not see more ads as a result of this service, just ads intended for those in the location where we provide your service. We will not tell advertisers your service address, your physical location, or your web browsing histories, and we will not provide them any information by which they could identify you. In some instances, we may place a cookie on your computer to keep track of what ads have been displayed through this service. For more information about our location-based advertising service, click here.

Who are CenturyLink's partners?

We offer satellite digital television through a strategic partnership with DirecTV. You can access DirecTV's privacy policy here.

We offer wireless services through an agency relationship with Verizon Wireless. You can access Verizon Wireless' privacy policy at verizonwireless.com/privacy.

A number of other businesses support our products and services. Just like its contracts with the partners identified above, CenturyLink's contracts with these other businesses require that information about our customers be protected and used only as needed for the provision of the service.

What are the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) rules regarding CPNI?

For the FCC's description of CPNI and the rules applicable to it, please click here.

Marketing rules. The FCC has categorized consumer CPNI into three "buckets": local, long distance, and wireless service. The CPNI that a carrier can use to market its services to its customers without their approval depends on what service buckets the customer already buys from. Carriers are permitted to use CPNI for marketing similar products within a service bucket (if a customer buys only one service) or buckets (if a customer buys out of more than one bucket). In addition, only those companies that sell CenturyLink services, including our agents and authorized sales representatives, will use this information.

For example, if you subscribe to our local service, we are allowed to use that local service information to sell you additional local service products and services. And if you have services from two buckets from us - such as local and long distance services - we are permitted to use information about either service to offer you additional products from either bucket. But, for example, if you have only local service from us, we are not permitted to use that CPNI to target you for interstate long distance service marketing.

Approval rules. We obtain customer approval to use CPNI across service buckets in two different ways. In some circumstances, we ask for customer consent. In other circumstances, we inform customers that CPNI will be used unless they instruct us not to. We can ask for long-term approval (that lasts until it is withdrawn) or we can ask for approval each time we interact with a customer (short-term approval).

Rules on non-marketing uses of CPNI. Service providers (or their agents) are allowed to use consumer CPNI for various non-marketing purposes without specific customer approval. These activities include installing, providing, billing for, and collecting for services. We may also use CPNI without specific approval to protect our rights or property or those of our customers or other carriers and to address fraud, abuse or unlawful subscriptions to or use of our services.

Access rules. Before speaking with a caller about account information, we take steps to authenticate the identity of the caller and confirm that he or she is authorized to have access to information on the account. Per FCC rules, we will not discuss call detail information with customers over the telephone unless the customer provides specific information about the calls in question, such as in the context of a billing inquiry. And we will not release CPNI in a retail store unless our customer presents a valid photo ID, such as a driver's license or a state identity card. Additionally, our customers cannot access online account information using only account information or generally known information. Rather, online account access is restricted through security code and password requirement.

Does CenturyLink monitor activity on its own websites to target its own ads?

We use information about your activity on our websites to determine the content we show you at our sites and to generate ads. Doing so lets us customize product availability and pricing for your community, and at CenturyLink.com lets us customize ads based on the content you are viewing there.

How can I remove advertisements from my CenturyLink email accounts?

You can manage your mycenturylink.com or centuryLink.net email ad preferences at http://centurylink.net/ad/about/.

Does CenturyLink monitor clicks on its ads when they are displayed on other websites?

When we place ads on others' websites, the ad networks we work with give us general information about visitors who click on our ads, including the types of browsers they use and their cities and states. They use that information to predict what CenturyLink ads may be most effective in a location.

Does CenturyLink use Internet tracking technologies to track my web activity on other websites for purposes of targeting ads?

We will not look into the content of your email, websites visited or other communications for marketing purposes without first informing you and giving you a choice about whether you want us to do so.

Does CenturyLink assist users with website address errors?

When an Internet user types a nonexistent or unavailable web address in a browser field, CenturyLink’s Web Helper service provides helpful suggestions when a user would otherwise encounter web address errors. Additionally, if we believe a website address is typed incorrectly we may suggest the correct site. Users may choose to click on one of those suggested links to complete their request. More information about this feature including information on how to opt-out of receiving it can be found at http://webhelper.centurylink.com/faq.php.

Does CenturyLink use cookies or similar technologies when I visit one of its websites?

Yes. Cookies are files that many web publishers place on your computer when you visit their sites. We use cookies and similar technologies to identify your browser, to personalize your visit (for example, by remembering your user name and offering you CenturyLink products available in your location), and to see whether your computer has any additional software needed to access some material on the site. We may also use cookies to help our partners keep track of the advertisements they have displayed.

Does CenturyLink use cookies or other kinds of browser tracking technologies when it advertises on others' websites?

When CenturyLink advertises on others’ sites the ad networks and third party publishers we work with do use cookies and other kinds of browser tracking technologies.

What happens when other companies advertise on CenturyLink websites?

When other companies advertise on our websites like CenturyLink.net, the ad networks and advertisers we work with to place ads there may put a cookie or web beacon on your computer. The ad networks use these cookies and web beacons to keep track of what ads are displayed and whether visitors click on the ads (both as required by their relationships with advertisers), and to better understand the ads that visitors like. And consistent with best practices in Internet advertising, all of the ad networks we work with enable you to opt-out of their placement of cookies or web beacons.

The ad networks or advertisers who advertise on our sites are not allowed to place or use existing cookies or web beacons in order to gather information that identifies visitors individually or builds profiles about their web use.

To learn more about web beacons, cookies and how to block or remove them, see "How can I disable cookies or other Internet information collection technologies?" below.

Does CenturyLink use flash cookies in any of its applications?

Flash cookies (or local shared objects) are similar to traditional browser cookies but are stored on your computer when you use Adobe Flash and are generally associated with movies, games and other similar applications. Many websites use flash cookies for tracking and storing visitors information and some preferences such as audio volume. We use flash cookies and traditional cookies on our websites.

How can I disable cookies or other Internet information collection technologies?

Cookies. You can set your computer preferences to (1) notify you each time a website tries to place a cookie on your computer and give you the option of accepting or rejecting it, (2) accept cookies from sites you visit (often referred to as first party cookies) but not from other sites (often referred to as third party cookies), or (3) block all cookies. Your browser may support other options with respect to cookies, including removing those that have already been placed on your computer. If you reject or block cookies, you may not be able to use or see some features on websites. To learn how to set your cookie preferences, see your browser's Help section.

The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) also has a tool that lets you opt-out of several third-party ad servers' and networks' cookies simultaneously. The tool will not block ads. It will only prevent the ads that appear on your computer from being selected based on the ad server's analysis of cookies on your computer. Also, this opt-out itself relies on cookies. That means that you will have to opt-out again if you delete cookies, change browsers, or buy a new computer.

Web beacons. Web beacons (which are also sometimes called web bugs) are tracking objects that are embedded in a web page or email. Usually invisible to the user, they report to the site's owner or email sender that a browser has viewed the page or email. For more information, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_bug.

Do Not Track. Some browsers have "Do Not Track" settings, which attempt to enable users to move about the Internet without being tracked by web applications. See the privacy settings on your browser for more information. References are available on the Internet that can further explain Do Not Track preferences including those found at All About Do Not Track

Is there something special I need to do regarding flash cookies?

Flash cookies. Flash cookies are larger than regular cookies, and they are not stored in the same place on the user's computer. Nor are they deleted when a user deletes cookies. You can see what flash cookies are on your computer and delete the ones you don't want by visiting Adobe's Settings Manager page.

Does CenturyLink's network reveal personal information like the number I am calling or who calls me?

We record some calling and called number information in our network, generally when we provide long distance services. We do not generally record such information when we provide local services except in connection with services like Caller ID, Call Trace and Last Call Return. Other business services, such as Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), also obtain information about called and calling numbers.

Number transmission and presentation. Telephone networks transmit telephone numbers regardless of the number's published status. Networks do not know if a number is published or non-published, listed or non-listed in some printed or online directory. So, when a subscriber with a non-published or non-listed number makes an unblocked call (see Number Blocking below), the party receiving the call may see the caller's name and number displayed on its caller ID or similar equipment.

Be aware: A variety of websites and vendors offer services that will let a person make it look like they are calling from any number they want. In this situation, the name or number that displays on the caller ID or similar equipment may not be the information of the calling party. This is often called "number spoofing." Sometimes it is done for a legitimate purpose, sometimes it is not.

Number blocking. In some cases, a CenturyLink customer can block the transmission of its telephone number to the called party. Instructions on how to do this are found in our official directory (but generally blocking requires either a prior arrangement or dialing using a * followed by two numbers).

But the display of a telephone number will not always be blocked even if a subscriber takes action to do so. For example:

  • When you dial 911, your name, address, and telephone number information is provided to the emergency-service provider.
  • When billing for a long distance call to a non-published or non-listed number.
  • In some cases, such as on some party lines or coin-operated lines, as well as calls to pay-per-call (900) or 8xx toll-free numbers the telephone network cannot block the calling-party's number.
  • Some technology allows call recipients to prevent callers from blocking information about the number they are calling from.
Does CenturyLink allow customers to view information about others' uses of its services?

Some CenturyLink services allow the customer (usually the person who pays the bill) broad access to information about usage of the services on the customer's account. For example, a customer may set up services so that information about calls, such as the numbers calling in or being called or the times calls can be seen on a television screen or through a web portal. Voice messages also might be accessible in these ways or through the customer's email. It may be that not all the calls or all the messages were made by or meant for the customer. In fact, they may be meant for other users of the services. So we require our customer to represent that he or she has authority to access, review or take action with respect to the information that might be displayed or made available. We also attempt to provide notice to those who may be affected by the gathering of information (especially voice and text messages) in these easy to access locations.

Who can I contact if I have questions about CenturyLink's Privacy Policy?

If you have questions about this policy, our practices, concerns about your personal information, or require assistance in managing your choices, please email our Privacy Group, or write us at: