FCC Chairman Ajit PaiSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • The FCC is preparing to propose fines against all four major US carriers.
  • All four carriers have been accused of disclosing the real-time location data of its customers.
  • Fines could exceed an excess of $200 million.

The United States Federal Communications Commission is preparing to propose fining all for major US cellular carriers at least $200 million for disclosing the real-time location data of its customers.

Reported by Reuters, two people briefed on the matter explained that the commission is set to propose the fines on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile by Friday. The companies will then have the opportunity to contest the fines and the amount to be paid before they are finalized. That said, the sources explained that it does not necessarily mean that the fines would go down - they could potentially increase.

In May 2018, the FCC launched an investigation into reports that a flaw in a website disclosed the location data of a carrier's customers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai then disclosed in January that the investigation found that "one or more wireless carriers apparently violated federal law."

After the announcement by the FCC in January, a trade group representing the carriers released a statement saying that "upon hearing allegations of misuse of the data, carriers quickly investigated, suspended access to the data and subsequently terminated those programs."

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed frustration that it took so long for the commission to act against reports that "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."

The details of the findings and proposed fines are expected to be announced by the end of day Friday.