FCC To Fine Wireless Carriers for Selling Location Information

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed fines in excess of $200 million to be imposed on the four largest wireless carriers in the United States.

The fines come as a response to a story from May 2018 uncovered by The New York Times that unearthed a company named Securus Technologies. They were exposed for selling location data tied to customers across every major cellular network to law enforcement officials.

The proposed fines against them are just that, proposed, at this time. The companies have the opportunity to respond and contest the figures put out by the FCC. The figures were calculated based on their length of time involved with releasing the data.

T-Mobile is looking at a possible $91 million fine. AT&T a $57 million fine. Verizon is facing more than $48 million in fines. Sprint could see fines a little over $12 million.

Once exposed, the carriers had promised to cut out the location data- sharing agreements with third-party companies. In 2019, Joseph Cox with Vice.com showed that nothing had changed. He was able to locate a test phone using $300 and a bounty hunter who was able to buy the information from a third-party service.

The information is providing almost near-exact location sharing to these third parties.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) has been a critic of the FCC’s stance on wireless data sharing and has called for more consumer privacy laws. He feels that the punishment being brought forth by the FCC will not stop the future collection of the data being sold.

His administration is an advocate for strong privacy legislation. This includes the “Mind Your Own Business Act” aimed at protecting the personal data of Americans and holding the CEOs of these companies personally responsible for the lies.