1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

FCC commissioner says the agency is not doing enough to stop the sale of location data

By Cal Jeffrey
Apr 2, 2019
Post New Reply
  1. Democratic Commissioner Geoffrey Starks wrote an op-ed for The New York Times pointing out that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done little to remedy the selling of private location data.

    According to the commission’s rules, the GPS data of cellphone customers are only supposed to be used for 911 purposes. However, last year the NYT broke a story about how a Mississippi sheriff was facing federal charges for repeatedly tracking citizens without a warrant.

    He used a company called Securus that provided call monitoring services for inmates. A lesser-known service that the company offered was GPS tracking of specific cell numbers. Securus paid cellular carriers for this data.

    Shortly after the news broke, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to the FCC demanding an investigation into the misuse of location data within the industry. It was also about that time that carriers including the big four, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, pledged to cease selling location data to third-party brokers like Securus and others. However, recent reports of the information winding up in the hands of bounty hunters and others would seem to indicate that carriers have not lived up to their promises.

    "Federal action is long overdue. The agency’s inaction despite these increasingly troubling reports speaks volumes and leaves our duty to the public unfulfilled."

    Starks is concerned that if the FCC does not take action soon the statute of limitations will expire.

    “Nearly a year after the news first broke, the commission has yet to issue an enforcement action or fine those responsible,” the commissioner wrote. “This passage of time is significant, as the agency usually has only one year to bring action to hold any wrongdoers accountable before the statute of limitations runs.”

    Whether anything will be done about the matter is anybody’s guess. Starks seems to feel that the current chair of the FCC is taking a lenient stance with telecoms, which he sees as partisan and that the rollback of net neutrality rules is also partially to blame.

    “Some may argue that the F.C.C.’s authority to take action against wireless carriers for this activity has gotten weaker in recent years, with the repeal of consumer-focused privacy and net neutrality rules during the current administration,” said Starks. “But I believe that the commission still has ample authority to address these egregious pay-to-track practices. As a Democratic commissioner at the Republican-led agency, I can call for action, but the chairman sets the agenda, including deciding whether and how quickly to respond to pay-to-track schemes.”

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,869   +2,202

    Ajit Pai is the industry's lap dog. I, for one, am not at all surprised nothing has been done WRT this issue.
     
    psycros likes this.
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,669   +2,428

    Get that VPN, kids, and screw with these dirtbags as hard as possible. Let's make Greenland have more Internet users than it actually has citizens.
     
    Cal Jeffrey and wiyosaya like this.
  4. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,869   +2,202

    I have 4G LTE data for my home, and my home is not in my state even without a VPN. :laughing:
     

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...