FCC to propose fining wireless carriers for location sharing
FCC commissioners, with chairman Ajit Pai at left, testify before a House committee in Dec. 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The FCC plans to propose fines against wireless carriers totaling roughly $200 million for improperly sharing customers' location information with outside parties, according to people familiar with the matter.
Why it matters: Lawmakers and others have been calling for agency action for over a year after revelations that location data from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint made its way to a resale market used by bounty hunters.
Details: The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday the four major carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — would face proposed fines from the FCC, although the companies will be able to challenge the fines before they can be finalized.
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) raised alarm bells in 2018 that wireless companies were sharing customers' location data with a phone service provider to prisons that allowed its clients to track cell phone locations.
- Wyden called the proposed fines "comically inadequate" in a statement Thursday.
- "Based on today’s news reports, it seems clear Chairman Pai has failed to protect American consumers at every stage of the game — this issue only came to light after my office and dedicated journalists discovered how wireless companies shared Americans’ locations willy nilly," Wyden said.
What's next: The proposed penalties are expected to be made public Friday. The agency and the wireless companies declined comment.