Data Security, Government Regulations, Privacy

US carriers fined nearly $200M over illegal customer location data sharing

Many dollar banks note on money background

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission imposed $196 million in total fines to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon for engaging in the unlawful sale of customers' location information to data aggregators, reports The Record, a news site by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.

Such data was later peddled to third-party data brokers, according to the FCC, which noted that the major telecommunications firms did not stop selling the location data even after realizing that no valid consent had been obtained from their customers. All of the fined wireless carriers intend to appeal the decision of the FCC, with an AT&T spokesperson noting that the action had insufficient legal and factual basis.

Despite the decision being an overall win, the FCC should have released the action against the erring telecommunications providers earlier, said Electronic Privacy Information Center's Chris Frascella.

"The FCC needs to strengthen its protection of subscriber location data, particularly in the absence of a federal comprehensive privacy law," said Frascella.

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