Tech Policy Press: The FCC’s Big Fines Over Location Data Aren’t a Privacy Success Story 

May 3, 2024

This has been the FTC’s long-standing modus operandi, but without relitigating the merits of FTC consent decrees to protect privacy, the idea that the major wireless carriers need only get up to speed on basic best practices around geolocation is patronizing at best and insulting at worst. What the wireless carriers were caught doing in 2019 are privacy advocates’ worst nightmare. Location data in the hands of bounty hunters and domestic abusers is not some hypothetical privacy horrible, and even if the carriers privacy lawyers were confused about the legal status of this information, they certainly were on notice about the privacy risks involved. 

Numerous civil society organizations, including the ACLU, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Public Knowledge, warned about the “significant privacy-related concerns” around commercial location services in a joint filing in 2014. 

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