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.