FCC fines America’s largest wireless carriers $200 million for selling customer location data

There is the Federal Communications Commission slapped The largest US mobile carriers with a collective fine of $200 million for selling access to their customers’ location data without their consent. AT&T had to pay $57 million, and Verizon had to pay $47 million. Meanwhile, Sprint and T-Mobile face a combined $92 million in fines. merged two years ago. FCC conducted a deep investigation Carriers’ unauthorized disclosure and sale of subscribers’ real-time location data after their activities came to light in 2018.

To sum up the practice in the words of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: Carriers “sold real-time location data to data aggregators, allowing this highly sensitive data to get into the hands of pawn companies, bounty hunters and other shady actors.” According to the agency, the scheme came to light after public information that a sheriff in the state of Missouri had tracked numerous individuals using location data obtained from wireless carriers by a company called Securus. Securus provides communications services to correctional facilities across the country.

Although the carriers eventually shut down, the agency said they continued their programs for a year after the practice was discovered and they promised the FCC they would stop selling customer location data. In addition, they continued without reasonable safeguards to ensure that legitimate services using their customers’ data, such as roadside assistance and emergency medical services, actually obtained users’ consent to track their locations.

companies said Fast Company intend to appeal the fines. T-Mobile, which faced the largest penalty at $80 million — Sprint was fined $12 million — said it was excessive. AT&T said the decision lacked “both legal and factual merit” and that the decision was “outrageously punitive.” [the companies] to support life-saving deployment services.”

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