Congress Fears FCC Will Not Examine Sale of Telephone Location Information Earlier than Time Runs Out

On Friday, 11 democratic members of a congressional committee targeted on telecoms urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to replace them on the Fee’s investigation into how cellphone carriers bought the real-time location information of their prospects. The members famous they’ve “rising concern” the FCC is failing to implement legal guidelines designed to guard client privateness. As Motherboard revealed, these information gross sales included to bounty hunters and others with out cellphone customers’ consent.

The information highlights how the FCC is seemingly dragging its ft or not being forthcoming about its investigation, whereas the time frame to research the difficulty shortly runs out.

“Regardless of saying that it started an investigation into the wi-fi carriers after being made conscious of the allegations in 2018, the FCC has failed, up to now, to take any motion. And now time is operating out for the reason that statute of limitations offers the FCC one yr to behave,” a letter the democratic members of the Committee on Vitality and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications and Know-how despatched to the FCC on Friday reads. Motherboard obtained a replica of the letter earlier than its publication.

“We write concerning our rising concern that the Federal Communications Fee (FCC) is failing in its obligation to implement the legal guidelines Congress handed to guard shoppers’ privateness. This Committee has repeatedly urged you to behave shortly to guard shoppers’ privateness pursuits, and sadly you may have failed to take action,” the letter provides.

Do you’re employed on the FCC? We’d love to listen to from you. Utilizing a non-work cellphone or laptop, you may contact Joseph Cox securely on Sign on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or electronic mail joseph.cox@vice.com.

The difficulty facilities round a number of current revelations of the placement information business. In 2018, the New York Occasions and Senator Ron Wyden found that major carriers were selling real-time location information by means of a intermediary firm to a agency known as Securus, which then bought it to low degree enforcement who used it and not using a court docket order. A couple of months later, Motherboard discovered this commerce expanded to non-public people and companies, and paid a bounty hunter $300 to trace a cell phone’s location. Then in February Motherboard revealed one firm had bought AT&T, T-Cellular, and Dash location information to tons of of bounty hunters for years, together with extremely exact A-GPS information. The carriers said they stopped selling the data earlier this yr.

After Motherboard’s preliminary report, 15 senators called on the FCC and FTC to investigate the sale of information to bounty hunters. The FCC mentioned it could.

The FCC has stonewalled that investigation at varied factors although. In Could Motherboard reported the FCC was withholding key details about the investigation from its Commissioners. Gizmodo then reported how different Congress members protested the FCC’s inaction. Pai additionally refused a request for an emergency briefing on the difficulty from the Committee that penned this most up-to-date letter.

The Subcommittee letter offers the FCC till November 29 to offer an replace on the investigation.

An FCC spokesperson wrote in an electronic mail, “We’ve obtained the letter and are reviewing it. I don’t have an additional remark.”

Replace: This piece has been up to date to incorporate remark from the FCC.

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