It’s increasingly difficult to keep track of which companies gather, use, and sell personal information. Even with states taking steps to crack down on the misuse of personal data, it can be difficult to know how companies use private information. New judgments by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may help people fight back against companies that misuse personal information.
According to The Verge, the FCC is fining Verizon for selling customer real-time location data to third parties. The FCC launched its investigation into Verizon and other phone carriers after a report in Motherboard detailed how consumer location data ended up in the wrong hands.
According to The Verge, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said it appears that some “wireless carriers apparently violated federal law.”
Although the fines imposed by the FCC may seem like a slap on the wrist, individuals can still fight back against Verizon 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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