FCC Hits Major US Carriers with $200M in Fines for Sharing Customer Data

The FCC slapped four big US network companies with nearly $200 million in fines for sharing customer data when they shouldn’t have. They sold this info to middlemen, known as “aggregators,” who then passed it on to others. All the companies hit with fines are planning to fight back, saying the FCC’s got it wrong legally.

The carriers fined include AT&T, who’s out about $57 million, and Verizon, which owes almost $47 million. T-Mobile and Sprint, now a single company after a merger, are together on the hook for $92 million. The FCC announced these fines on Monday, making it clear they mean business.

Jessica Rosenworcel, the head of the FCC, pointed out that these companies have the keys to some of our most private info, like where we are at any given moment. She stressed how critical it is that this kind of sensitive data stays secure.

Originally, these fines were suggested back in February 2020 after it came out that these companies had been dealing customer location details to various businesses, including prison phone services, ride-sharing apps, and mobile games. The concern was these third parties got their hands on the data without customers saying it was okay, even after the carriers knew this wasn’t cool.

This issue first popped up during a congressional investigation in 2018. Despite the fines, the three companies involved aren’t taking it lying down. T-Mobile said it’s serious about keeping customer data safe and thinks the FCC’s decision is over the top and plans to challenge it.

AT&T also argued that the FCC’s move was baseless, saying it was wrong to blame them for someone else messing up. Verizon, which hasn’t said much publicly, noted they had already dealt with a bad actor who misused customer data and would also appeal the decision.

Senator Ron Wyden, who led the investigation back in 2018, thinks the fines are too small but is glad the FCC is trying to hold these companies accountable. He seems more on board with the latest decision, especially with the reductions given to T-Mobile and Verizon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.