FCC Proposes Over $200M in fines for wireless location data violations
Via FCC Headlines
Mar 2, 2020
February 28, 2020 - WASHINGTON, USA: The Federal Communications Commission today proposed fines against the nation’s four largest wireless carriers for apparently selling access to their customers’ location information without taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to that information.
As a result, T-Mobile faces a proposed fine of more than $91 million; AT&T faces a proposed fine of more than $57 million; Verizon faces a proposed fine of more than $48 million; and Sprint faces a proposed fine of more than $12 million. The FCC also admonished these carriers for apparently disclosing their customers’ location information, without their authorization, to a third party. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau opened this investigation following public reports that a Missouri Sheriff, Cory Hutcheson, used a “location-finding service” operated by Securus, a provider of communications services to correctional facilities, to access the location information of the wireless carriers’ customers without their consent between 2014 and 2017.
In some cases, Hutcheson provided Securus with irrelevant documents like his health insurance policy, his auto insurance policy, and pages from Sheriff training manuals as evidence of his authorization to access wireless customer location data.
“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 and that the FCC will take strong enforcement action if they don’t. Today, we do just that,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “This FCC will not tolerate phone companies putting Americans’ privacy at risk.”
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