US phone company selling location data to face penalty

indica News Bureau-

After a news regarding carriers selling location data to third parties came to light, the Federal Communications Company’s Enforcement Bureau started investigating the case and found that one US phone company was apparently violating the federal law. 

 FCC said Friday that one US phone company violated the law in regard to disclosing real-time location data of customers. 

Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman, said in a letter to several members of Congress that the commission’s Enforcement Bureau had reached that conclusion after an investigation and that any violators could face a penalty.

As such data can be used for aboveboard purposes like locating a lost smart-phone or getting emergency roadside assistance, but it can also be sold to data aggregators who use it for purposes beyond a customer’s control, the violation is of serious nature. 

“The negligent attitude toward Americans’ security and privacy by wireless carriers and intermediaries puts every American at risk,” Sen. Ron Wyden said at the time the inquiry was announced, reported CNET. 

Though a month after that announcement, some phone-companies said they were ending their contracts with location-aggregating companies but apparently the practice was still going on, as revealed in the investigation.

In January 2019, US lawmakers again pressed the FCC for answers on the sale of consumer location data.

In his letter, Pai further said the FCC is committed to enforcing its rules and the Communications Act. In “the coming days,” Pai said, he’ll consult with the other FCC commissioners on the location-data infractions and on notifying the violators about a proposed penalty, through what’s called a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture. The violators would then have a chance to respond.

“Millions of Americans use a wireless device every day. They didn’t sign up for having their phone location data bought and sold when they signed up for wireless service. But this clearly happened. Now the FCC must hold accountable those responsible.”, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted on Friday.


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