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FCC is proposing a $200 million fine on carriers for selling your location

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What you need to know

  • In 2018, it was discovered that all four major carriers in the U.S. were selling your real-time location data to third parties.
  • Further investigations later revealed that the data could sell for as little as $300 and end up in the hands of private individuals or businesses, including bounty hunters.
  • The FCC is expected to propose a fine of at least $200 million on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon over the sharing of your location data.

Back in 2018, it was revealed that all four major U.S. carriers were selling your real-time location data to third parties. Then, in 2019, an investigation by Motherboard uncovered that your location can be worth as little as $300, and the data had ended up in the hands of businesses or private individuals, including bounty hunters.

As you can expect, this practice of selling off your real-time location upset consumers as well as lawmakers. So much so, that Democratic Senator Ron Wyden called for the FCC to investigate into the issue. Now, Reuters is reporting that the FCC is proposing a fine on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon over the sharing of your location data.

The fine is expected to be at least $200 million and the FCC will most likely officially announce it on February 28, 2020. However, the amount still hasn't been finalized, and it could change, but sources say that it is "expected to total just over $200 million." T-Mobile is expected to have the largest fine of all the carriers and is currently in the process of merging with Sprint.

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In response to the reports of the fines, Wyden suggested that Pai "failed to protect American consumers at every stage of the game."

This issue only came to light after my office and dedicated journalists discovered how wireless companies shared Americans' locations willy nilly.

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He further commented on the fines calling them "comically inadequate" and saying it won't "stop phone companies from abusing Americans' privacy the next time they can make a quick buck."

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