Early February, the FCC regulatory agency wrote a letter to the US Congress explaining that “one or more” major US carriers were selling customer’s location data to some agencies. This practice was initially discovered back in 2018 and only now the FCC is acting to discourage this move.
Yesterday, the FCC revealed that it was issuing a total of over $208 million in fines to all four major US carriers. T-Mobile is looking at $91 million in fines, AT&T faces $57 million, $48 million for Verizon, and Sprint will need to pay $12 million. Worth noting that these valor are only “proposed” fines right now. Moreover, these values use the FCC’s investigation as base and are proportional.
FCC investigations started after word had out that US carriers were selling their subscribers’ location data without consent. “Location Finding service” Securus provided location information about prison inmates to authorities. However, the service began selling information to shadier third parties. To make things worse, no one has a clue about the reasons behind these third-parties.
American consumers take their wireless phones with them wherever they go. And information about a wireless customer’s location is highly personal and sensitive. The FCC has long had clear rules on the books requiring all phone companies to protect their customers’ personal information. And since 2007, these companies have been on notice that they must take reasonable precautions to safeguard this data. The FCC will take strong enforcement action if they don’t. Today, we do just that[…] This FCC will not tolerate phone companies putting Americans’ privacy at risk.” – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
As we mentioned before, the fines and allegations in today’s letter are not final. According to the letter, the US carriers will have a chance to answer these claims. Therefore it may take several months before an official decision. Carriers will reply and probably appeal in a future sentence.