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T-Mobile to Fight FCC Fine Over Location Data Sharing

T-Mobile said it plans to fight the FCC's proposed $91 million fine for "apparently selling access to their customers’ location information without taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to that information."  

Related: FCC Proposes to Fine Carriers Over Location Data Sharing 

"While we strongly support the FCC’s commitment to consumer protection, we fully intend to dispute the conclusions of this NAL and the associated fine," the company said. 

The FCC last week proposed the fines against the Big Four (now Three) carriers last week and T-Mobile's fine was the largest.

The FCC explained the size of the fine this way: "We find that T-Mobile apparently disclosed its customers’ location information, without their consent, to third parties who were not authorized to receive it. In addition, even after highly publicized incidents put the Company on notice that its safeguards for protecting customer location information were inadequate, T-Mobile apparently continued to sell access to its customers’ location information for the better part of a year without putting in place reasonable safeguards—leaving its customers’ data at unreasonable risk of unauthorized disclosure."

"We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data very seriously," said T-Mobile. "When we learned that our location aggregator program was being abused by bad actor third parties, we took quick action. We were the first wireless provider to commit to ending the program and terminated it in February 2019 after first ensuring that valid and important services were not adversely impacted." 

It was Feb. 8 to be exact, or at least that was what T-Mobile' told FCC commssioner Jessica Rosenworcel back in May 2019. Rosenworcel had lit a fire under the carriers with letters seeking their assurances they were terminating their location data aggregators program.

Sprint, which was not owned by T-Mobile when the FCC was conducting its investigation, had no comment on whether it would fight the the fine. "We received the NAL from the FCC and are in the process of reviewing," the company said in a statement." We take the privacy and security of our customers very seriously, and are committed to protecting it."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.