Published on March 9, 2020 by the FairShake Team
Even with states like California taking action to fight back against the misuse of customer data by big companies, there is a still a long way to go to protect consumer privacy. But new judgements by the FCC may help people hold companies accountable for misusing personal information.
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is fining T-Mobile for selling its customers’ real-time location data to third parties, according to The Verge. The FCC launched its investigation into T-Mobile and other phone carriers after a report in Motherboard detailed how consumer location data was ending up in the wrong hands.
According to The Verge, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that it appears that some “wireless carriers apparently violated federal law.”
While the fines imposed by the FCC may seem like a slap on the wrist, individuals can still fight back against T-Mobile for misusing and profiting off of their data.
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The FCC launched an investigation into location data practices shortly after the Motherboard report, and lawmakers have pushed the commission to demonstrate progress at various points during the ensuing year. FCC chairman Ajit Pai said last month that “one or more wireless carriers apparently violated federal law.”
Reached for comment, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) criticized the FCC’s slow action in response to the privacy violations. “This issue only came to light after my office and dedicated journalists discovered how wireless companies shared Americans’ locations willy nilly,” Wyden said in a statement. “[Pai] only investigated after public pressure mounted. And now his response is a set of comically inadequate fines that won’t stop phone companies from abusing Americans’ privacy the next time they can make a quick buck.”
In January, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also criticized the agency for taking so long to act on the reports. “It’s chilling to consider what a black market could do with this data,” she said. “It puts the safety and privacy of every American with a wireless phone at risk.”
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