Quantcast
Connect with us

Regulators move to fine telecoms for selling location data

Published

on

US regulators moved to impose fines Friday against the nation’s four major wireless carriers for selling location data of customers without their consent.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed fining T-Mobile more than $91 million; AT&T some $57 million; Verizon $48 million, and Sprint $12 million.

The wireless firms were accused of having disclosed mobile network user location data to a third party without authorization from customers, the FCC said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The FCC began an investigation after a report that a sheriff in Missouri used a “location-finding service” operated by a prison communications services company called Securus to track whereabouts of people including a judge and law enforcement officers.

The carriers provided access to customer location data to “aggregators” who then resold information to services such as Securus, according to the regulator.

“American consumers take their wireless phones with them wherever they go,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a release.

“And information about a wireless customer’s location is highly personal and sensitive.”

US telecom firms have been on notice for more than a decade that they are required to safeguard location data gathered about users, Pai added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sizes of the fines were based on how long carriers continued to sell customer location information without proper safeguards and how many parties had access, the FCC said.

The telecom companies will get to provide evidence and arguments to the commission before the fines are finalized.

Some privacy activists said the penalties failed to go far enough.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lisa Hayes of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a digital rights organization, called the fines too little and too late.

“This kind of egregious privacy violation and the weak enforcement response by the FCC further demonstrate why the US needs a strong, comprehensive, national privacy law,” said Hayes.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The current lack of a law means that anyone willing to spend a few hundred dollars can buy the location data of another person at any moment in time.”

Gaurav Laroia of the consumer group Free Press said the FCC action comes more than a year after activists filed complaints on these practices.

“Press reports surfaced over a year ago that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon were selling their customers’ real-time location information to data brokers,” Laroia said. “That information was then available on the open market, putting people in real physical danger.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Sprint told AFP that it is reviewing the FCC’s notice regarding the proposed fine and had no comment other than to say it takes customer privacy seriously.

“When we learned that our location aggregator program was being abused by bad actor third parties, we took quick action,” T-Mobile said in response to an AFP inquiry.

T-Mobile added that it will dispute the FCC’s conclusions and the fine.

Verizon and AT&T did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Italy’s COVID-19 death toll tops 10,000 despite long coronavirus lockdown

Published

on

The coronavirus toll in Italy shot past 10,000 on Saturday and showed little sign of slowing despite a 16-day lockdown.

The 889 new fatalities reported in the world's worst-hit nation came a day after it registered 969 deaths on Friday -- the highest single toll since the COVID-19 virus emerged late last year.

Italy now looks certain to extend its economically debilitating -- and emotionally stressful -- business closures and the ban on public gatherings past their April 3 deadline.

"Is it time to reopen the country? I think we have to think about it really carefully," civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Joe Biden has one key coronavirus question he wants answered: ‘Where are the tests, Mr. President?’

Published

on

Despite the inability to hold campaign rallies, the 2020 presidential campaign is continuing in spite of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

With the response to coronavirus being the top public policy discussion in America, all eyes are focused on President Donald Trump's actions.

Trump had promised the nation that he would set up COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites in the parking lots of big-box retailers but has so far failed to deliver.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Banks are causing a cash crisis by tightening lending standards during coronavirus crisis

Published

on

Major banks in America are tightening access to credit as coronavirus shutdowns put households across America in dire financial shape, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

"Banks and financial-technology firms are starting to toughen their approval standards for new loans to consumers and small businesses. That means many people could find it hard to get credit just when they most need it, as the novel coronavirus pandemic puts thousands out of work," the newspaper reported.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image