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FCC: Wireless Carriers Violated Federal Law by Sharing Consumer Location Data

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One or more wireless carriers violated federal law by failing to protect sensitive customer information like real-time data location, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed today in letters sent to Congress as part of a wireless location investigation [PDF].

As noted by Bloomberg, Pai's letter comes after the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce in November accused the FCC of "failing in its duty to to enforce the laws Congress passed to protect consumers' privacy."


The accusation was referring to major wireless carriers disclosing real-time consumer location information to third-party data services, with data services then selling that sensitive info to a variety of companies without customer consent.

The location selling practices surfaced last year after Motherboard reported that Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile were selling subscriber geolocation data to third-party companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies then passing it along to bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, and more.

The FCC's letter confirms that one or more wireless carriers violated the law by sharing location data with third-party services, though it does not specify which carriers have done so. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all been questioned about their data selling practices in the past.

Pai says that he's committed to ensuring that carriers comply with the Communications Act and the FCC's rules, and the carriers that have been found in violation of the law could be facing fines.

Article Link: FCC: Wireless Carriers Violated Federal Law by Sharing Consumer Location Data
 
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justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
11,389
7,772
I'm a rolling stone.
Only hope these wireless carriers get a massive fine.

Problem is, they only raise prices...again.

Losing their license after not complying with laws would go much farther.

-----

1st time: get a warning
2nd time: fine of 10% of annual profit revenue
3rd time: fine of 50% of annual profit revenue
4th time: fine of 100% of annual profit revenue
5th time: lose license
 
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Stromos

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2016
272
608
Woodstock, GA
Problem is, they only raise prices...again.

Losing their license after not complying with laws would go much farther.

-----

1st time: get a warning
2nd time: fine of 10% of annual profit
3rd time: fine of 50% of annual profit
4th time: fine of 100% of annual profit
5th time: lose license

Agreed. With the big four's we don't fix prices but *wink wink* we do. Nothing will come of this other than the consumers paying the FCC.
 
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mabhatter

macrumors 6502a
Jan 3, 2009
879
236
Problem is, they only raise prices...again.

Losing their license after not complying with laws would go much farther.

-----

1st time: get a warning
2nd time: fine of 10% of annual profit
3rd time: fine of 50% of annual profit
4th time: fine of 100% of annual profit
5th time: lose license
Lol “profit” in modern mega business is imaginary. Companies like amazon just substitute “profit” for “stock price”. Your 3rd time should be 10% of REVENUE, not profit. It’s possible a company wouldn’t even HAVE that much money, which would force them to sell divisions or layoff employees... which greatly generates incentive from the people not getting rich to make the company mind.
 
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Mity

macrumors member
Nov 1, 2014
83
16
Only hope these wireless carriers get a massive fine.

Problem is, they only raise prices...again.

Losing their license after not complying with laws would go much farther.

-----

1st time: get a warning
2nd time: fine of 10% of annual profit
3rd time: fine of 50% of annual profit
4th time: fine of 100% of annual profit
5th time: lose license

I would also add prison terms for executives.
 
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GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,464
829
Why is Verizon’s logo included in this article, if Verizon wasn’t mentioned as one of the culprits? It’s a bit misleading to include their logo, unless there’s supporting information indicating that they were guilty, as well.
 
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justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
11,389
7,772
I'm a rolling stone.
Lol “profit” in modern mega business is imaginary. Companies like amazon just substitute “profit” for “stock price”. Your 3rd time should be 10% of REVENUE, not profit. It’s possible a company wouldn’t even HAVE that much money, which would force them to sell divisions or layoff employees... which greatly generates incentive from the people not getting rich to make the company mind.


Good point, updated my post.
 
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Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
5,363
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San Jose, CA
Why is Verizon’s logo included in this article, if Verizon wasn’t mentioned as one of the culprits? It’s a bit misleading to include their logo, unless there’s supporting information indicating that they were guilty, as well.
Verizon was also in on it according to the original NY Times report that started the various investigations:

 
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redneckitengineer

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2017
420
937
Does this surprise anyone?

The only way they'll stop is if the fine is more than the revenue they make doing these practices and the fine continues to accrue as long as practice is in place. Otherwise, they just write it off as cost of doing business and keep profiting.
 
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sw1tcher

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2004
1,909
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Only hope these wireless carriers get a massive fine.

At least one will be fined.


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."

And we all know which carrier won't be fined. It's the one not mentioned above.

Here's a hint: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajit_Pai

Before his appointment to the FCC, Pai held positions with the Department of Justice, the United States Senate, the FCC's Office of General Counsel, and Verizon Communications.
 
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DoctorTech

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2014
688
1,798
Indianapolis, IN
Only hope these wireless carriers get a massive fine.
You said it, that was my very first thought. The fine has to hurt in order for it to bring about a change in behavior. A $25,000,000 fine would just a rounding error for some of those companies. I would love to see a judge get creative and also tack on a provision that says the CEO and all the Sr. VPs of those companies have to share their real-time location online for the next 12-24 months just to ensure they understand why customers don't like having our data sold.
 
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