- FCC is reportedly looking to fine America’s top 4 cellular carriers up to $200 million for disclosing customers’ real-time location.
- The FCC initiated the investigation in 2018, and the carriers have since mentioned that the bugs on their websites that led to the disclosure of location have been patched.
- The carriers will have the chance to appeal but sources mention the chances of getting a reprieve are relatively slim.
According to a new report by Reuters, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to fine all four major American cellular carriers – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint up to $200 million for disclosing location data of customers who used their websites. Although a firm representing the carriers later said that these issues with the website were fixed after an investigation.
While initial reports have mentioned the $200 million figure, the specifics will be detailed soon. Carriers will then be able to appeal these penalties, although this may not have any impact, and in turn, could even increase the fine, sources said.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the process has taken too long and has allowed malicious middlemen access to a customer’s real-time location. She also expressed fears about how location data could be exposed to the black market.
The FCC originally launched an investigation into the matter in 2018, with the Chairman Ajit Pai subsequently saying that one or more carriers may have violated federal law. This is ultimately when the carriers decided to fix the loopholes on their websites.
Sharing a customer’s real-time location, which was said to be accurate by a few hundred meters, is incredibly disturbing and portrays the lackadaisical attitude of the carriers regarding customers’ privacy. A penalty will perhaps force the carriers to change their ways in the future.
What do you make of this incident?