Big telecom companies face $200M in fines for allegedly selling user location data

 Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T potentially face millions in fines

Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission
Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission
Updated: February 28, 2020 - 6:57pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday proposed over $200 million in fines against Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile for apparently selling access to user location information while failing to engage in appropriate actions to prevent unauthorized access to that data.

“The FCC also admonished these carriers for apparently disclosing their customers’ location information, without their authorization, to a third party,” the five-member commission said in announcing the proposed fine.

America’s big four wireless carriers each face millions of dollars in fines, in varying amounts depending on the number of places they sold the data and on how long they persisted in selling data without appropriate protection measures.

T-Mobile’s proposed fine stands above the rest at over $91 million. AT&T’s is the next largest at over $57 million, followed by Verizon and Sprint’s potential fines exceeding $48 million and $12 million respectively.

“The FCC has long had clear rules on the books requiring all phone companies to protect their customers’ personal information,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “And since 2007, these companies have been on notice that they must take reasonable precautions to safeguard this data and that the FCC will take strong enforcement action if they don’t. Today, we do just that.”

The telecom companies will have an opportunity to oppose the FCC’s allegations and proposed fines. The commission says it will listen to evidence and legal arguments prior to taking action to resolve the matters.