A Change of Pace: Phone Companies Hit With Big Bill

FCC Proposes Fines on Major Phone Companies

by Neal Freyman

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed fines on the U.S.’ biggest phone companies for allegedly playing hot potato with user data.

The fines total more than $200 million and hit T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. The FCC accuses these companies of not taking “reasonable precautions” to safeguard users’ location data from third-parties.

  • The action follows a string of investigations, including this one from Motherboard, that showed personal location data was ending up in the hands of bounty hunters.
  • Seven months before that report, all four major carriers promised to stop selling location data to third-party brokers.

That obviously didn’t satisfy the FCC. And what the FCC just did didn’t satisfy other critics:

  • “The FCC dragged its feet and issued penalties that let these companies off easy,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
  • “The FCC’s investigation is a day late and a dollar short,” said Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

Looking ahead…T-Mobile is already planning to fight the fine, and we assume others will follow.

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