T-Mobile Cares So Much About Consumer Privacy, It's Fighting The FCC's Flimsy Fine For Location Data Sharing

from the light-wrist-slaps dept

T-Mobile, like many mobile carriers, insists in highly values consumer privacy. But that hasn't really been reflected in the company's response to ongoing SIM hijacking scandals. Nor was that dedication particularly apparent when T-Mobile (along with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) were all caught selling access to user location and 911 data to pretty much any nitwith with a nickel.

Last week, after a year of stonewalling, the Trump FCC announced it would be doling out some light wrist slaps to companies that were caught selling access to this data. For most of the companies, the fines they received were a tiny, tiny fraction of not only their annual revenues, but the billions made over the last decade selling access to this data to law enforcement, people pretending to be law enforcement, and even stalkers. All four of the companies also just received tens of billions on dollars from the Trump tax cuts in exchange for promises they completely flaked out on.

It would be a pittance to pay off the fine and move on, especially given this particular FCC is unlikely to engage in much follow up to either confirm data collection has actually stopped, or police access to the mountains of data already collected. But T-Mobile says it's intending to fight the fine anyway, because, you know, it cares just that much about consumer privacy and accountability:

"While we strongly support the FCC’s commitment to consumer protection, we fully intend to dispute the conclusions of this NAL and the associated fine," the company said."

So yeah, T-Mobile will "support" the FCC's "commitment to consumer protection" (which barely exists in the first place) by...(checks notes)...fighting the already feeble end result. This is, again, apparently a reflection of T-Mobile taking "consumer privacy seriously":

"We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data very seriously," said T-Mobile. "When we learned that our location aggregator program was being abused by bad actor third parties, we took quick action. We were the first wireless provider to commit to ending the program and terminated it in February 2019 after first ensuring that valid and important services were not adversely impacted."

Again, there's little chance these companies will actually leave billions in location data revenues on the table. While all four major carriers say they've stopped the practice, it's far more likely they've simply tweaked their privacy policies, renamed the collection systems, and buried them deep in some subsidiary somewhere. After all, who is going to do the legwork required to audit the entire industry's privacy and data collection practices, Ajit Pai?

Filed Under: competition, consumers, fcc, fines, privacy
Companies: t-mobile


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 4:54am

    Re:

    The fact that someone is actually contesting this amount vs the amount they likely made off the practice is ludicrous.

    Not if it legalizes the practice of selling user data to anyone who ticks all the correct boxes in contract.


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