FCC says wireless location data sharing broke the law
FCC commissioners testify before Congress in December. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai told lawmakers Friday he intends to propose fines against at least one U.S. wireless carrier for sharing customers' real-time location data with outside parties without the subscribers' knowledge or consent.
Why it matters: The FCC has been investigating for more than a year following revelations that subscriber location data from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint made its way to a resale market used by bounty hunters.
Driving the news: Pai said in letters to several lawmakers that the agency's investigation has found that "one or more wireless carriers apparently violated federal law."
- Pai said he intends to seek commission approval of one or more proposed fines "in the coming days."
What they're saying: Democrats who have called on the FCC for an investigation said this conclusion is overdue.
- "This is certainly a step in the right direction, but I’ll be watching to make sure the FCC doesn’t just let these lawbreakers off the hook with a slap on the wrist," said House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, who along with 10 other Democrats wrote a November letter to Pai about the issue.
- "It’s a shame that it took so long for the FCC to reach a conclusion that was so obvious," Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said.
- "I’m eager to see whether the FCC will truly hold wireless companies accountable, or let them off with a slap on the wrist," said Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who raised alarms at the FCC in 2018 about the sale of wireless location data.
Go deeper: Location data is ground zero in privacy wars