Skip to main content

The FCC will hit phone carriers with a $200 million fine over location sharing

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is going to hit the big four U.S. phone carriers with a fine totaling $200 million for selling people’s location data. 

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile will have the chance to dispute their fines, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The FCC hasn’t officially announced anything yet, but the agency is expected to make the announcement, with details on final numbers, on Friday, February 28. 

That $200 million fine would reportedly be split four ways between the companies, so if they are all fined the same amount, each will end up having to pay $50 million. 

Just last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, revealed that the FCC concluded an investigation into mobile phone carriers. He said that “one or more wireless carriers” have been found to have violated federal law as it relates to the exposure of consumers’ real-time location data.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued a statement shortly after Pai’s announcement last month, saying that the “safety and privacy of every American with a wireless phone” was put at risk. 

“For more than a year, the FCC was silent after news reports alerted us that for just a few hundred dollars, shady middlemen could sell your location within a few hundred meters based on your wireless phone data. It’s chilling to consider what a black market could do with this data,” she said. “Millions and millions of Americans use a wireless device every day and didn’t sign up for or consent to this surveillance.

After reports from The New York Times and Motherboard surfaced in 2018 about phone carriers abusing location data by selling it to bounty hunters, landlords, and other third parties, the FCC launched an investigation into the practices of the top carriers. Verizon reportedly stopped sharing cellular location data in 2018, and AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile followed in early 2019. 

Digital Trends reached out to the FCC to comment on the fine, but haven’t yet received a response. We also reached out to AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile to comment, and we’ll update this story when we hear back. 

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
X, formerly Twitter, looks set to become subscription-only
A white X on a black background, which could be Twitter's new logo.

Anyone currently using the free tier of X, formerly known as Twitter, may soon be asked to hand over a “small” monthly fee to access the service, X owner Elon Musk said on Monday.

The billionaire entrepreneur made the remarks during a livestreamed chat with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read more
How to watch final moments of NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission
This mosaic of Bennu was created using observations made by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that was in close proximity to the asteroid for over two years.

OSIRIS-REx: 1st US Asteroid Sample Lands Soon (Official NASA Trailer)

In just a few days from now, NASA will oversee the final moments of its groundbreaking OSIRIS-REx mission, which marks the first time for the agency to bring back rock samples collected from a distant asteroid.

Read more
Intel’s new integrated graphics could rival discrete GPUs
The Intel Meteor Lake chip.

Intel has just announced an interesting update to its upcoming Meteor Lake chips: The integrated graphics are about to receive an unprecedented boost, allowing them to rival low-end, discrete GPUs. Now equipped with hardware-supported ray tracing, these chips have a good chance of becoming the best processors if you're not buying a discrete graphics card. Performance gains are huge, and it's not just the gamers who stand to benefit.

The information comes from a Graphics Deep Dive presentation hosted by Intel fellow Tom Petersen, well-known to the GPU market for working on Intel Arc graphics cards. This time, instead of discrete graphics, Petersen focused on the integrated GPU (iGPU) inside the upcoming Meteor Lake chip. Petersen explained the improvements at an architectural level, introducing the new graphics as Intel Xe-LPG.

Read more