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FCC Chair Reportedly Seeks Fines For Carrier Sharing Of Location Data

In late January, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai reported to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau had completed an “extensive investigation” into the “disclosure of consumers’ real time location data” to third parties by certain wireless carriers. His missive also reported that the Bureau had “concluded that one or more wireless carriers had violated the law” and promised to circulate to his fellow Commissioners proposed financial penalties “in connection with the apparent violations.”

The investigation stemmed from reports that the carriers had shared customer location information with third-party data aggregators that, in turn, provided access to their customers for various purposes.

The Chairman has now apparently fulfilled that commitment as the Wall Street Journal (Journal) and other publications are reporting that Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture are, in fact, circulating among the Commissioners for their consideration. The Journal reported that the FCC would be “seeking hundreds of millions of dollars, but also noted, “such notices aren’t final, and the companies can still argue they aren’t liable or should pay less. It would ultimately fall on the U.S. Justice Department to collect any penalties.”

One report indicated that the agency might announce the proposed penalties as early as its meeting today, February 28, but there was no such item on the FCC’s formal agenda.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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About this Author

Paul Besozzi, Squire Patton Boggs, telecommunications attorney
Senior Partner

Paul Besozzi concentrates in the wireless, broadband and emerging technology areas. His extensive experience of more than 30 years in the telecommunications field includes regulatory, transactional, legislative and litigation matters for clients ranging from wireless service and infrastructure providers to resellers of long-distance service, including cellular, personal communications services, specialized mobile radio, point-to-point microwave, advanced wireless services and other emerging wireless technologies.

Paul represents clients before the federal and...

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