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E&C Democrats Request Update from FCC on Investigation of Unauthorized Real-Time Location Data Disclosures

Nov 8, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Eleven Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai today expressing growing concern that the FCC is failing to protect consumers’ privacy by refusing to hold wireless carriers accountable for unauthorized disclosures of consumers’ real-time location data.

Over a year ago, in May 2018, it was reported that major wireless carriers were selling consumers’ real-time location data to third-party data aggregators.  This location data was then easily purchased by other private companies, such as bounty hunters.  The selling of this data was done without the consent or knowledge of the affected customers.

The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), and  Subcommittee members Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Darren Soto (D-FL).

“Despite announcing that it began an investigation into the wireless carriers after being made aware of the allegations in 2018, the FCC has failed, to date, to take any action.  And now time is running out since the statute of limitations gives the FCC one year to act,” the Committee members wrote to Pai.  “This Committee has repeatedly urged you to act quickly to protect consumers’ privacy interests, and unfortunately you have failed to do so.”

On several occasions, Committee members have made it clear that the FCC must act expeditiously to fulfill its obligation to protect consumers’ privacy interests and hold carriers accountable to the extent they have violated the FCC’s rules.  Yet, over a year later, the FCC is still dragging its feet and has failed to take any action to protect consumers’ privacy.

“As a result of the work of members of the Committee, and others, reports indicate that these carriers have stopped the sharing of real-time location data with data aggregators.  This is good news.  Nevertheless, we are concerned that the Commission is shirking its obligation to enforce the Communications Act and the rules it has issued to protect consumers’ privacy,” the Committee members continued in the letter. 

Members of the subcommittee are requesting an update on the FCC’s investigation into the carriers’ disclosure of consumers’ real-time location data by November 29.

The letter is available HERE.