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National Wireless Independent Dealer Association

FCC Fines Wireless Telcos $200 Million Over Location Selling

FCC NWIDAAT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have been fined in total nearly $200,000,000 for illegally selling subscribers real-time locations.

The FCC expects to finalise the fines and announced on April 29 it had completed its Notices of Apparent Liability issued against the carriers in February 2020. Sprint is also named for its actions prior to the merger with T-Mobile in April 2020.

The FCC commissioners voted along party lines to fine AT&T $57 million, Verizon $46 million and T-Mobile $80 million along with $12 million for Sprint.

The investigations of the four operators found that each sold access to its customers’ location information to “aggregators,” who then resold access to such information to third-party location-based service providers.

“In doing so, each carrier attempted to offload its obligations to obtain customer consent onto downstream recipients of location information, which in many instances meant that no valid customer consent was obtained,” the FCC stated.

The operators sold “real-time location information to data aggregators, allowing this highly sensitive data to wind up in the hands of bail-bond companies, bounty hunters, and other shady actors,” FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said in a statement.

T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have stated they are opposed to the FCC’s findings and intend to appeal. 

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