Apr 29, 2024 - Business

Major mobile carriers fined nearly $200 million for sharing customer location data

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Photo: Silas Stein/Getty Images

Major mobile carriers were fined nearly $200 million by the Federal Communications Commission for illegally sharing their customers' location data.

Why it matters: T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon violated the Communications Act when they sold customers' location data without their consent and continued the practice without sufficient safeguards after being informed of the violations, the FCC said.

  • "Foreign adversaries and cybercriminals have prioritized getting their hands on this information," the FCC said.

By the numbers: T-Mobile was fined more than $80 million.

  • AT&T was fined more than $57 million.
  • Verizon was fined almost $47 million.
  • Sprint, which has merged with T-Mobile since the investigation began, was fined more than $12 million.

The other side: The FCC order holds mobile carriers responsible for other companies' violations and "lacks both legal and factual merit," an AT&T spokesperson said.

  • The order contradicts previous emphasis on functions like roadside assistance and emergency medical alerts, according to the CTIA, a trade organization representing the wireless communications industry.
  • "Congress must examine the FCC's broken enforcement process," Nick Ludlum, CTIA's senior vice president, said in a statement.

What's next: AT&T expects to appeal the order after conducting a legal review.

Catch up quick: T-Mobile and Verizon's fines were reduced since the Notices of Apparent Liability were issued in February 2020.

Go deeper: FCC says wireless location data sharing broke the law

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