FCC Slaps $200M Fine On Top Mobile Companies for Illegal Data-Sharing

According to Monday’s announcement by the Biden administration, four major cellphone providers in the US were penalized hundreds of millions of dollars for illegally sharing their customers’ location information.

Nearly $200 million in penalties were imposed by the Federal Communications Commission against Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It’s been discovered that the firms in question had sold their users’ location data to third-party aggregators and providers of location-based services.

The FCC sent all four cellular companies a notice in February 2020, alerting them that their sharing of consumer location data might potentially violate the law.

As the Federal Communications Commission finalizes penalties, the wireless operators have already made it clear that they will challenge the fines.

Federal Communications Commission head Jessica Rosenworcel claims that carriers have been selling data aggregators real-time location information, which is then sold to dubious organizations like bounty hunters and bail-bond agencies.

Public complaints on the unlawful transfer of location data to a sheriff in Missouri prompted the FCC to launch an inquiry. Securus, a supplier of communications services for correctional institutions, ran a location-finding service responsible for this revelation.

Carriers have authorized the use of location data for programs, including logistics, human trafficking warnings, medical emergency alert services, roadside assistance, and fraud protection.

T-Mobile clarified that it ended its industry-wide location-based services initiative with third-party aggregators more than five years ago. It ensured that these actions would not impact services like emergency response, fraud protection, and roadside assistance.

Verizon promised its consumers that it immediately began taking measures to protect their data.

The FCC said service providers must get consumers’ permission before accessing their location data, citing contractual obligations.