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Wireless Carriers Learn Costly Lesson in Customer Data Protection Compliance

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued fines of nearly $200 million against four major wireless carriers for illegally sharing access to customers’ location information without consent.

According to a press release issued by the FCC in late April, forfeiture penalties have been issued against Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon for violations of section 222 of the Communications Act, which requires carriers to protect customer information and to maintain the confidentiality of customer information unless a customer expressly consents to the access or use of their information.

T-Mobile has been assessed $80 million in penalties, followed by AT&T (assessed $57 million), Verizon ($47 million), and Sprint (more than $12 million).

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In its press release, the FCC notes that the fines follow investigations of the release of customer information to a Missouri Sherrif by a “location-finding service” that provides communication services to correctional facilities to track the location of individuals. The FCC says that, even after being notified of the violation, the carriers involved continued to operate their programs without putting reasonable safeguards in place to limit access to their customers’ data.

Read the FCC’s press release on its recent round of forfeiture orders against T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.

The press release includes links to the individual forfeiture orders issued by the Commission.

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