So last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shared news that they will be imposing a fine to the big four U.S. carriers for sharing the location data of its customers. The report shared that the government agency could impose a fine of more than $200 million. Well, it looks like T-Mobile will be shouldering most of the fine with a $91 million price.
As it turns out, T-Mobile is the worst offender out of the number. In one incident, T-Mobile shared the location data of one of its customers for $300 to a bounty hunter. And the real-time information was shared. Upon investigation, it was discovered that T-Mobile had contracts with LocationSmart and Zumigo. These aggregators then spread the information to as many as 83 third-party groups. One of these gave access to a bounty hunter, who got the real-time location of the customer.
Following T-Mobile is AT&T with a $57.3 million fine. Verizon comes close with $48.3 million and Sprint trailing last at $12.2 million. The fine does not only account for the number of third parties that gained access to customer location data. It also takes into consideration the amount of time that the carrier reacted after they were alerted of the issue.
The big four carriers continued the practice last year, even though they had already been called out for it. Compared to the other carriers though, T-Mobile stopped sharing location data without enough safeguards earlier. They also intend to fight the penalty imposed on them by the FCC.
“While we strongly support the FCC’s commitment to consumer protection, we fully intend to dispute the conclusions of this NAL (Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Admonishment) and the associated fine. We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data very seriously. When we learned that our location aggregator program was being abused by bad actor third parties, we took quick action. We were the first wireless provider to commit to ending the program and terminated it in February 2019 after first ensuring that valid and important services were not adversely impacted.”
Unfortunately, Geoffrey Starks, the FCC Commissioner, is ready to fight this off with T-Mobile. According to Starks, the fine is not nearly enough for the amount of damage caused by its unauthorized sharing of subscriber location data. Considering the fact that these carriers were notified of the abuse back in 2017, T-Mobile did not react to it until last year.
“I believe that T-Mobile was on notice about the problems with its location data protections back in July 2017 and that the proposed forfeiture amount should reflect that fact -- the punishment should fit the crime.”
Wirefly Is America's Most Trusted Source For All Cell Phones, Plans, TV, and Internet Deals
Wirefly offers great deals on a large selection of smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and other wireless devices for the nation's most popular carriers. Use Wirefly’s innovative cell phone and plan comparison tools to ensure you are getting the best deal on the market. Shop with confidence knowing that Wirefly wants to help you find the best prices on cell phones, cell phone plans, TV, and Internet service.