FCC Adopts EPIC Recommendations to Safeguard 911 Location-Based Routing Data
January 30, 2024
On January 25, the Federal Communications Commission adopted its Report and Order on Location-Based Routing (LBR) for 911 calls. Rather than directing a 911 call to an emergency assistance call center based on the area code of the phone (e.g., directing a 202 area code number to DC), or based on what cell tower is nearby (which could result in inaccurate dispatch 10% or more of the time), LBR directs the call based on the precise location of the caller.
In its order, the FCC agreed with EPIC that its existing rules for safeguarding the privacy and security of dispatchable location information (i.e., where emergency responders are sent) should apply equally to the precise location information used in LBR. This requires providers to certify that neither they nor their vendors use the information or associated data for any non-911 purpose except with prior express consent or as otherwise required by law, and to certify that providers and their vendors have implemented sufficient privacy and security measures to safeguard this information. At EPIC’s suggestion, the FCC also clarified that LBR data is subject to the same requirements and exemptions as dispatchable location data under Section 222, which means that the caller’s location data must be treated as confidential information except when providing it to an emergency response authority in connection with a 911 call.
EPIC regularly regularly files comments with the FCC and advocates for improved safeguards for location data, the privacy and security of emergency assistance requests, and greater consumer protection from the unsavory practices of data brokers.