U.S. Carriers Facing $200M in Fines for Selling Customer Location Data

As expected, the United States Federal Communications Commission today proposed fines against the four major wireless carriers in the United States for improperly sharing and selling real-time customer location information without taking “reasonable measures” to protect against unauthorized access to the data.


In a statement [PDF] released today, the FCC says that T-Mobile should pay the most, while Sprint should pay the least. T-Mobile faces a proposed fine of more than $91 million, while the FCC wants AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint to pay over $51 million, $48 million, and $12 million in fines, respectively.

The fines vary based on the length of time that each carrier sold access to its customer location information without safeguards and the number of entities to which each carrier sold access.

Along with the proposed fines, the statement from the FCC admonishes the four carriers for disclosing customer location data without authorization to third-party entities.

“American consumers take their wireless phones with them wherever they go. And information about a wireless customer’s location is highly personal and sensitive. The FCC has long had clear rules on the books requiring all phone companies to protect their customers’ personal information. And since 2007, these companies have been on notice that they must take reasonable precautions to safeguard this data and that the FCC will take strong enforcement action if they don’t. Today, we do just that,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “This FCC will not tolerate phone companies putting Americans’ privacy at risk.”

All four of the major U.S. carriers sold customer geolocation information to data aggregators like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies then reselling the data to third-party location-based service providers. The data was ultimately provided to law enforcement officials, bounty hunters, bail bondsman, and more.

The FCC says that though exact practices varied, each carrier relied heavily on contract-based assurances that the location-based services providers they worked with would get consent from the customer before accessing the customer’s location information, which did not happen.

Carriers had “several commonsense options to impose reasonable safeguards,” but ultimately “failed to take the reasonable steps needed to protect customers from unreasonable risk of unauthorized disclosure.”

The fines proposed by the FCC today are not final and each carrier will be provided with an opportunity to respond and provide evidence and legal arguments before final fines are imposed.

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As expected, the United States Federal Communications Commission today proposed fines against the four major wireless carriers in the United States for improperly sharing and selling real-time customer location information without taking "reasonable measures" to protect against unauthorized access to the data.


In a statement [PDF] released today, the FCC says that T-Mobile should pay the most, while Sprint should pay the least. T-Mobile faces a proposed fine of more than $91 million, while the FCC wants AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint to pay over $51 million, $48 million, and $12 million in fines, respectively.

The fines vary based on the length of time that each carrier sold access to its customer location information without safeguards and the number of entities to which each carrier sold access.

Along with the proposed fines, the statement from the FCC admonishes the four carriers for disclosing customer location data without authorization to third-party entities.
"American consumers take their wireless phones with them wherever they go. And information about a wireless customer's location is highly personal and sensitive. The FCC has long had clear rules on the books requiring all phone companies to protect their customers' personal information. And since 2007, these companies have been on notice that they must take reasonable precautions to safeguard this data and that the FCC will take strong enforcement action if they don't. Today, we do just that," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "This FCC will not tolerate phone companies putting Americans' privacy at risk."
All four of the major U.S. carriers sold customer geolocation information to data aggregators like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies then reselling the data to third-party location-based service providers. The data was ultimately provided to law enforcement officials, bounty hunters, bail bondsman, and more.

The FCC says that though exact practices varied, each carrier relied heavily on contract-based assurances that the location-based services providers they worked with would get consent from the customer before accessing the customer's location information, which did not happen.

Carriers had "several commonsense options to impose reasonable safeguards," but ultimately "failed to take the reasonable steps needed to protect customers from unreasonable risk of unauthorized disclosure."

The fines proposed by the FCC today are not final and each carrier will be provided with an opportunity to respond and provide evidence and legal arguments before final fines are imposed.


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FCC to Propose Fining AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile $200M for Sharing Customer Location Data

The United States Federal Communication Commission is expected to propose fining AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint $200 million in total for improperly disclosing real-time customer location data, reports Reuters.


Proposed fines for the four major carriers in the United States could be announced as soon as tomorrow, and the carriers would have the chance to challenge the fines before they become final. The precise amount each company is fined could change, and could possibly increase.

The FCC in January confirmed that several wireless carriers in the U.S. violated federal law by failing to protect sensitive customer data that included real-time location information.

Carrier location selling practices were uncovered last year when Motherboard reported that Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile had been selling subscriber geolocation data to third-party companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies passing the data along to bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, and more.

The FCC launched an investigation into the practices after the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce in November 2019 accused the FCC of “failing in its duty to to enforce the laws Congress passed to protect consumers’ privacy.”

This article, “FCC to Propose Fining AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile $200M for Sharing Customer Location Data” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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The United States Federal Communication Commission is expected to propose fining AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint $200 million in total for improperly disclosing real-time customer location data, reports Reuters.


Proposed fines for the four major carriers in the United States could be announced as soon as tomorrow, and the carriers would have the chance to challenge the fines before they become final. The precise amount each company is fined could change, and could possibly increase.

The FCC in January confirmed that several wireless carriers in the U.S. violated federal law by failing to protect sensitive customer data that included real-time location information.

Carrier location selling practices were uncovered last year when Motherboard reported that Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile had been selling subscriber geolocation data to third-party companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies passing the data along to bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, and more.

The FCC launched an investigation into the practices after the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce in November 2019 accused the FCC of "failing in its duty to to enforce the laws Congress passed to protect consumers' privacy."


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Apple’s Rumored Powerbeats4 Receive FCC Approval

Apple today received FCC approval for a pair of wireless earphones with model number A2015, described as “Power Beats Wireless” in the regulatory documents. These are likely the rumored “Powerbeats4” earphones with “Hey Siri” support that MacRumors uncovered images of in iOS 13.3.1 code last month.

Powerbeats4 mockup by MacRumors contributor Ryan Barrieau

“Powerbeats4” should be an upgraded version of Powerbeats3 with an Apple-designed H1 chip for hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands and “Announce Messages with Siri.” The latter feature allows Siri to read your incoming messages out loud when your earphones are connected to your iPhone or iPad and the device is locked.

Apple already released totally wireless Powerbeats Pro with “Hey Siri” support earlier this year for $249. “Powerbeats4” would stick with a cable between each earpiece like the Powerbeats3, which retail for $199.

FCC filing for new Powerbeats with model number A2015

FCC filings usually foreshadow the release of new Apple products within days, so “Powerbeats4” could be announced imminently with a press release, unless they are held for an Apple event in March.

Related: Everything We Know About Apple’s Upcoming Powerbeats4 Earbuds

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Apple today received FCC approval for a pair of wireless earphones with model number A2015, described as "Power Beats Wireless" in the regulatory documents. These are likely the rumored "Powerbeats4" earphones with "Hey Siri" support that MacRumors uncovered images of in iOS 13.3.1 code last month.

Powerbeats4 mockup by MacRumors contributor Ryan Barrieau

"Powerbeats4" should be an upgraded version of Powerbeats3 with an Apple-designed H1 chip for hands-free "Hey Siri" voice commands and "Announce Messages with Siri." The latter feature allows Siri to read your incoming messages out loud when your earphones are connected to your iPhone or iPad and the device is locked.

Apple already released totally wireless Powerbeats Pro with "Hey Siri" support earlier this year for $249. "Powerbeats4" would stick with a cable between each earpiece like the Powerbeats3, which retail for $199.

FCC filing for new Powerbeats with model number A2015

FCC filings usually foreshadow the release of new Apple products within days, so "Powerbeats4" could be announced imminently with a press release, unless they are held for an Apple event in March.

Related: Everything We Know About Apple's Upcoming Powerbeats4 Earbuds


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FCC: Wireless Carriers Violated Federal Law by Sharing Consumer Location Data

One or more wireless carriers violated federal law by failing to protect sensitive customer information like real-time data location, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed today in letters sent to Congress as part of a wireless location investigation [PDF].

As noted by Bloomberg, Pai’s letter comes after the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce in November accused the FCC of “failing in its duty to to enforce the laws Congress passed to protect consumers’ privacy.”


The accusation was referring to major wireless carriers disclosing real-time consumer location information to third-party data services, with data services then selling that sensitive info to a variety of companies without customer consent.

The location selling practices surfaced last year after Motherboard reported that Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile were selling subscriber geolocation data to third-party companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies then passing it along to bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, and more.

The FCC’s letter confirms that one or more wireless carriers violated the law by sharing location data with third-party services, though it does not specify which carriers have done so. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all been questioned about their data selling practices in the past.

Pai says that he’s committed to ensuring that carriers comply with the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules, and the carriers that have been found in violation of the law could be facing fines.

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One or more wireless carriers violated federal law by failing to protect sensitive customer information like real-time data location, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed today in letters sent to Congress as part of a wireless location investigation [PDF].

As noted by Bloomberg, Pai's letter comes after the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce in November accused the FCC of "failing in its duty to to enforce the laws Congress passed to protect consumers' privacy."


The accusation was referring to major wireless carriers disclosing real-time consumer location information to third-party data services, with data services then selling that sensitive info to a variety of companies without customer consent.

The location selling practices surfaced last year after Motherboard reported that Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile were selling subscriber geolocation data to third-party companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo, with those companies then passing it along to bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, and more.

The FCC's letter confirms that one or more wireless carriers violated the law by sharing location data with third-party services, though it does not specify which carriers have done so. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all been questioned about their data selling practices in the past.

Pai says that he's committed to ensuring that carriers comply with the Communications Act and the FCC's rules, and the carriers that have been found in violation of the law could be facing fines.


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FCC Opens Up 3.5GHz Spectrum for Full Commercial Use, Apple’s Newest iPhones Already Offer Support

The United States Federal Communications Commission today cleared the way for OnGo [PDF], a wireless product spearheaded by the Citizens Broadcast Radio Service Alliance (CBRS) that aims to use the 3.5GHz band for a range of applications, including improving data speeds and connectivity across the United States on both 4G and 5G networks.

The CBRS Alliance announced that the FCC has allowed the Full Commercial Deployment of the OnGo service, which has been in the works since 2013 when the FCC first began pursuing a shared spectrum model for the 3.5GHz band.


Many major companies and government agencies came together as part of the CBRS Alliance to launch OnGo, including AT&T, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, Qualcomm, the FCC, the NTIA, the Department of Defense, and more, with the alliance boasting more than 159 members in total.

The 3.5GHz CBRS band will allow for new 4G and 5G operations, which the National Telecommunications and Information Administration says will create “tremendous value” for the United States by opening up capacity and coverage for 4G networks and facilitating the rollout of 5G.

Prior to the opening up of the 3.5GHz spectrum for commercial uses, it was used by the Department of Defense for shipborne radar systems. Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) networks built along the coast will reserve spectrum for ship radar systems, dynamically reassigning standard users to other parts of the band.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the 3.5GHz band will benefit both consumers and businesses through agreements with CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony who are now fully approved to operate commercial services in the band.

The FCC has made it a priority to free up mid-band spectrum for advanced wireless services like 5G. And today, I’m pleased to announce the latest step to achieve that priority: the approval of four systems that will enable the 3.5 GHz band to be put to use for the benefit of American consumers and businesses. As with all of our efforts to execute on the 5G FAST plan, we’re pushing to get next-generation wireless services deployed in the 3.5 GHz band as quickly and efficiently as possible.

OnGo is the name that the CBRS Alliance is using for the 3.5GHz spectrum. The CBRS Alliance says that OnGo empowers new business opportunities in workplaces, in public spaces where consumers will be able to use the spectrum, and for machine-to-machine communications or sensors for enabling a smarter infrastructure.

In simpler terms, OnGo facilitates private LTE networks, offers better performance than Wi-Fi, provides spectrum without cost that can be used for a multitude of purposes, allows wireless carriers to add coverage and capacity and improve data, and it boosts IoT connectivity in the longer-range level currently limited to Low-Power Wide Area Networks.

Apple’s newest iPhones, including the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, already support OnGo, or CBRS Band 48, and iPhone users could be seeing OnGo benefits in the near future. Verizon, for example, is a customer of Federated Wireless, one of the companies authorized to use the spectrum. Federated Wireless has already said that it plans to initiate CBRS services for more than 20 of its major customers in both urban and rural markets.

Along with the ‌iPhone‌, other major smartphones also work with CBRS Band 48, including Samsung’s Galaxy S10 devices and Google’s Pixel 4 smartphones.

Tags: FCC, LTE, 5G, 5G iPhone

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The United States Federal Communications Commission today cleared the way for OnGo [PDF], a wireless product spearheaded by the Citizens Broadcast Radio Service Alliance (CBRS) that aims to use the 3.5GHz band for a range of applications, including improving data speeds and connectivity across the United States on both 4G and 5G networks.

The CBRS Alliance announced that the FCC has allowed the Full Commercial Deployment of the OnGo service, which has been in the works since 2013 when the FCC first began pursuing a shared spectrum model for the 3.5GHz band.


Many major companies and government agencies came together as part of the CBRS Alliance to launch OnGo, including AT&T, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, Qualcomm, the FCC, the NTIA, the Department of Defense, and more, with the alliance boasting more than 159 members in total.

The 3.5GHz CBRS band will allow for new 4G and 5G operations, which the National Telecommunications and Information Administration says will create "tremendous value" for the United States by opening up capacity and coverage for 4G networks and facilitating the rollout of 5G.

Prior to the opening up of the 3.5GHz spectrum for commercial uses, it was used by the Department of Defense for shipborne radar systems. Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) networks built along the coast will reserve spectrum for ship radar systems, dynamically reassigning standard users to other parts of the band.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the 3.5GHz band will benefit both consumers and businesses through agreements with CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony who are now fully approved to operate commercial services in the band.
The FCC has made it a priority to free up mid-band spectrum for advanced wireless services like 5G. And today, I'm pleased to announce the latest step to achieve that priority: the approval of four systems that will enable the 3.5 GHz band to be put to use for the benefit of American consumers and businesses. As with all of our efforts to execute on the 5G FAST plan, we're pushing to get next-generation wireless services deployed in the 3.5 GHz band as quickly and efficiently as possible.
OnGo is the name that the CBRS Alliance is using for the 3.5GHz spectrum. The CBRS Alliance says that OnGo empowers new business opportunities in workplaces, in public spaces where consumers will be able to use the spectrum, and for machine-to-machine communications or sensors for enabling a smarter infrastructure.

In simpler terms, OnGo facilitates private LTE networks, offers better performance than Wi-Fi, provides spectrum without cost that can be used for a multitude of purposes, allows wireless carriers to add coverage and capacity and improve data, and it boosts IoT connectivity in the longer-range level currently limited to Low-Power Wide Area Networks.

Apple's newest iPhones, including the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, already support OnGo, or CBRS Band 48, and iPhone users could be seeing OnGo benefits in the near future. Verizon, for example, is a customer of Federated Wireless, one of the companies authorized to use the spectrum. Federated Wireless has already said that it plans to initiate CBRS services for more than 20 of its major customers in both urban and rural markets.

Along with the ‌iPhone‌, other major smartphones also work with CBRS Band 48, including Samsung's Galaxy S10 devices and Google's Pixel 4 smartphones.

Tags: FCC, LTE, 5G, 5G iPhone

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FCC Formally Approves Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally approved the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. The approval was the last regulatory hurdle to creating a new mobile carrier.


The FCC filing means T-Mobile and Sprint will be allowed to join together as “New T-Mobile” to become a dominant third carrier in the United States alongside Verizon and AT&T. The Department of Justice approved the merger in July.

The finalized order came after a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, with both Democrats against it. FCC boss Ajit Pai said in a statement that the merger would be good for consumers and the U.S. as a whole:

“It would bring the benefits of the next generation of wireless technology to American consumers and advance American leadership in 5G. It would help millions in rural America benefit from high-speed 5G mobile broadband service… and it would promote competition.”

However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was one of the dissenting voices, and argued that the consolidation of the two companies would likely follow the same path as previous mergers, leading to higher prices and poorer service for the majority of customers:

“We’ve all seen what happens when market concentration increases following a merger. A condensed airline industry brought us baggage fees and smaller seats, even as the price of fuel fell. A condensed pharmaceutical industry has led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications, taking advantage of those struggling with illness. There’s no reason to think the mobile-phone industry will be different.”

Together, the two companies have committed to building out a nationwide 5G network covering 97 percent of the U.S. population within three years and 99 percent within six years. T-Mobile and Sprint have also promised that they will not raise prices for three years following the completion of the merger.

In an attempt to ensure a competitive wireless carrier market, the FFC also wants to see Dish become the fourth nationwide facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States. Dish has announced that it plans to deploy a 5G broadband network capable of serving 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 2023.

A number of states have filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. federal court to block the proposed transaction, arguing that the merger is not in the public interest, just like AT&T’s attempted acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011 and the attempted merger between Sprint and T-Mobile in 2014, both of which regulators blocked. The lawsuit filed by the bipartisan coalition of more than a dozen state attorneys general remains on the docket and must be resolved before the merger can go forward.

T-Mobile and Sprint anticipate that the merger will be permitted to close by the end of the year. If it does go ahead, it will combine two of the four major wireless carriers in the United States, giving the new company nearly 100 million customers.

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally approved the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. The approval was the last regulatory hurdle to creating a new mobile carrier.


The FCC filing means T-Mobile and Sprint will be allowed to join together as "New T-Mobile" to become a dominant third carrier in the United States alongside Verizon and AT&T. The Department of Justice approved the merger in July.

The finalized order came after a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, with both Democrats against it. FCC boss Ajit Pai said in a statement that the merger would be good for consumers and the U.S. as a whole:
"It would bring the benefits of the next generation of wireless technology to American consumers and advance American leadership in 5G. It would help millions in rural America benefit from high-speed 5G mobile broadband service... and it would promote competition."
However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was one of the dissenting voices, and argued that the consolidation of the two companies would likely follow the same path as previous mergers, leading to higher prices and poorer service for the majority of customers:
"We've all seen what happens when market concentration increases following a merger. A condensed airline industry brought us baggage fees and smaller seats, even as the price of fuel fell. A condensed pharmaceutical industry has led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications, taking advantage of those struggling with illness. There's no reason to think the mobile-phone industry will be different."
Together, the two companies have committed to building out a nationwide 5G network covering 97 percent of the U.S. population within three years and 99 percent within six years. T-Mobile and Sprint have also promised that they will not raise prices for three years following the completion of the merger.

In an attempt to ensure a competitive wireless carrier market, the FFC also wants to see Dish become the fourth nationwide facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States. Dish has announced that it plans to deploy a 5G broadband network capable of serving 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 2023.

A number of states have filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. federal court to block the proposed transaction, arguing that the merger is not in the public interest, just like AT&T's attempted acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011 and the attempted merger between Sprint and T-Mobile in 2014, both of which regulators blocked. The lawsuit filed by the bipartisan coalition of more than a dozen state attorneys general remains on the docket and must be resolved before the merger can go forward.

T-Mobile and Sprint anticipate that the merger will be permitted to close by the end of the year. If it does go ahead, it will combine two of the four major wireless carriers in the United States, giving the new company nearly 100 million customers.


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New Mac Pro Receives FCC Approval Ahead of Launch

Apple’s new Mac Pro has received FCC approval today ahead of its release later this year. Apple’s website still says the new ‌Mac Pro‌ is “coming this fall,” but FCC approval could signal an imminent announcement.


The all-new ‌‌Mac Pro‌‌ is a powerhouse, with up to 28-core Intel Xeon processors, up to 1.5TB of ECC RAM, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and up to AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics with 64GB of HBM2 memory. The computer also has eight PCIe expansion slots for maximum performance, expansion, and configurability.

A new design includes a stainless steel frame with smooth handles and an aluminum housing that lifts off for 360-degree access to the entire system. The housing also has a unique lattice pattern to maximize airflow and quiet operation.


The new ‌‌Mac Pro‌‌ will start at $5,999 in the United States with an eight-core Intel Xeon processor, 32GB of ECC RAM, Radeon Pro 580X graphics, and 256GB of SSD storage. Apple will also be selling the 32-inch Pro Display XDR with 6K resolution for $4,999, with an optional stand to be available for $999.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Tag: FCC
Buyer’s Guide: Mac Pro (Don’t Buy)

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Apple's new Mac Pro has received FCC approval today ahead of its release later this year. Apple's website still says the new ‌Mac Pro‌ is "coming this fall," but FCC approval could signal an imminent announcement.


The all-new ‌‌Mac Pro‌‌ is a powerhouse, with up to 28-core Intel Xeon processors, up to 1.5TB of ECC RAM, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and up to AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics with 64GB of HBM2 memory. The computer also has eight PCIe expansion slots for maximum performance, expansion, and configurability.

A new design includes a stainless steel frame with smooth handles and an aluminum housing that lifts off for 360-degree access to the entire system. The housing also has a unique lattice pattern to maximize airflow and quiet operation.


The new ‌‌Mac Pro‌‌ will start at $5,999 in the United States with an eight-core Intel Xeon processor, 32GB of ECC RAM, Radeon Pro 580X graphics, and 256GB of SSD storage. Apple will also be selling the 32-inch Pro Display XDR with 6K resolution for $4,999, with an optional stand to be available for $999.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Tag: FCC
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Don't Buy)

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FCC Proposes ‘New Powers’ for Mobile Carriers in Effort to Combat Robocalls

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, wants to allow mobile phone companies to block robocalls by default, in the ongoing fight against call spam (via Reuters). Pai will present his proposal today, where all of the FCC commissioners are set to testify before a U.S. House panel regarding the widespread problem of robocalls.


According to Pai, carriers have avoided deploying default call-blocking tools because they have been unsure if such tools would be legal under the FCC’s current rules. So, launching an initiative backed by the FCC that would encourage these companies to block robocalls by default could be a big help in preventing unwanted phone calls.

“By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them,” Pai said.

Last year, Pai asked companies to adopt a “call authentication system” that was aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers, which many robocalls use to trick people into picking up the phone. This week, the chairman said that he expects major phone providers to implement such standards this year and the FCC will host a summit on July 11, 2019 to review the industry’s progress.

Robocalls are a problem for users across devices created by Apple, Google, and others. While there are ways to block a number that’s already called you on iOS, robocalls can repeatedly contact you using different numbers and methods, making them all the more difficult to stop.

Over the years, carriers like AT&T and Verizon have also launched their own spam protection apps that aim to warn users when a call is coming in that is likely a robocall. Still, these apps can only do so much and robocall-tracking company YouMail recently estimated that there were 48 billion unwanted calls in the U.S. in 2018, up 60 percent from 2017.

Tag: FCC

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Ajit Pai, Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, wants to allow mobile phone companies to block robocalls by default, in the ongoing fight against call spam (via Reuters). Pai will present his proposal today, where all of the FCC commissioners are set to testify before a U.S. House panel regarding the widespread problem of robocalls.


According to Pai, carriers have avoided deploying default call-blocking tools because they have been unsure if such tools would be legal under the FCC's current rules. So, launching an initiative backed by the FCC that would encourage these companies to block robocalls by default could be a big help in preventing unwanted phone calls.
“By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them,” Pai said.
Last year, Pai asked companies to adopt a "call authentication system" that was aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers, which many robocalls use to trick people into picking up the phone. This week, the chairman said that he expects major phone providers to implement such standards this year and the FCC will host a summit on July 11, 2019 to review the industry's progress.

Robocalls are a problem for users across devices created by Apple, Google, and others. While there are ways to block a number that's already called you on iOS, robocalls can repeatedly contact you using different numbers and methods, making them all the more difficult to stop.

Over the years, carriers like AT&T and Verizon have also launched their own spam protection apps that aim to warn users when a call is coming in that is likely a robocall. Still, these apps can only do so much and robocall-tracking company YouMail recently estimated that there were 48 billion unwanted calls in the U.S. in 2018, up 60 percent from 2017.

Tag: FCC

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FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices

The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:

Real-time location information is sensitive data deserving the highest level of privacy protection. But it is evident from press reports that this data may have been sold without the explicit consent of consumers and without appropriate safeguards in place.

Accordingly, I appreciate your decision to end these location aggregation services by March of this year. To that end, I kindly request that you provide an update on your efforts and confirm by what date AT&T ended its arrangements to sell the location data of its customers. Please also confirm whether and by what date the company ended arrangements to sell assisted or augmented GPS data.

Finally, the public still has very little detail about how much geolocation data is being saved and stored-including in ways that may be far too accessible to others. Even de-anonymized location data may be combined with other information in ways that could make it personally identifiable again. Accordingly, please explain whether AT&T’s agreements permitted aggregators or others to save and store location data they received from your company. If so, please confirm what steps your company is taking to ensure that these companies delete or destroy previously shared data and any derivative data. Alternatively, please explain what steps AT&T is taking to safeguard such data from use or onward sale that is inconsistent with consumers’ original content.

Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.

This article, “FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:
Real-time location information is sensitive data deserving the highest level of privacy protection. But it is evident from press reports that this data may have been sold without the explicit consent of consumers and without appropriate safeguards in place.

Accordingly, I appreciate your decision to end these location aggregation services by March of this year. To that end, I kindly request that you provide an update on your efforts and confirm by what date AT&T ended its arrangements to sell the location data of its customers. Please also confirm whether and by what date the company ended arrangements to sell assisted or augmented GPS data.

Finally, the public still has very little detail about how much geolocation data is being saved and stored-including in ways that may be far too accessible to others. Even de-anonymized location data may be combined with other information in ways that could make it personally identifiable again. Accordingly, please explain whether AT&T's agreements permitted aggregators or others to save and store location data they received from your company. If so, please confirm what steps your company is taking to ensure that these companies delete or destroy previously shared data and any derivative data. Alternatively, please explain what steps AT&T is taking to safeguard such data from use or onward sale that is inconsistent with consumers' original content.
Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.


This article, "FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Receives FCC Approval For What Appears to Be a New Beddit 3.5 Sleep Monitor

Apple today received FCC approval for a nondescript “sleep monitor” in the United States. While much of the application is hidden due to a standard confidentiality agreement, one document reveals that the sleep monitor is “designed by Beddit in California” and has an all-new model number 3.5.


Simply put, this could end up being an all-new Beddit 3.5 sleep monitor that Apple will eventually release, but no further details are available. It could also be a modified version of the existing Beddit 3 sleep monitor.

Apple acquired Beddit, a company that develops health-related hardware, in May 2017 and continues to sell the Beddit 3 sleep monitor for $149.95 on its online store. The thin, flexible sensor is placed under the sheet on top of the mattress and automatically begins tracking sleep-related data when you lie down.


The data collected and analyzed includes sleep time and efficiency, heart rate, respiration, temperature, movement, snoring, room temperature, and room humidity. The data can be viewed in the Beddit app on iPhone and iPad.

Beddit technology is based upon a scientific principle known as ballistocardiography or BCG, described as an unobtrusive, non-invasive technique for measuring the mechanical activity of the heart, lungs, and other body functions:

Each time the heart beats, the acceleration of blood through the circulatory system generates a mechanical impulse that can be measured and analyzed. Throughout the night, Beddit tracks each individual heart beat and respiration cycle. Beddit’s advanced analysis and machine learning algorithms adapt differently to each body type and provide detailed sleep data.

There has been hope that Apple’s acquisition of Beddit could lay the foundation for first-party sleep monitoring on the Apple Watch, but this FCC application does not appear to be related to the Apple Watch.

Tags: FCC, Beddit

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Apple today received FCC approval for a nondescript "sleep monitor" in the United States. While much of the application is hidden due to a standard confidentiality agreement, one document reveals that the sleep monitor is "designed by Beddit in California" and has an all-new model number 3.5.


Simply put, this could end up being an all-new Beddit 3.5 sleep monitor that Apple will eventually release, but no further details are available. It could also be a modified version of the existing Beddit 3 sleep monitor.

Apple acquired Beddit, a company that develops health-related hardware, in May 2017 and continues to sell the Beddit 3 sleep monitor for $149.95 on its online store. The thin, flexible sensor is placed under the sheet on top of the mattress and automatically begins tracking sleep-related data when you lie down.


The data collected and analyzed includes sleep time and efficiency, heart rate, respiration, temperature, movement, snoring, room temperature, and room humidity. The data can be viewed in the Beddit app on iPhone and iPad.

Beddit technology is based upon a scientific principle known as ballistocardiography or BCG, described as an unobtrusive, non-invasive technique for measuring the mechanical activity of the heart, lungs, and other body functions:
Each time the heart beats, the acceleration of blood through the circulatory system generates a mechanical impulse that can be measured and analyzed. Throughout the night, Beddit tracks each individual heart beat and respiration cycle. Beddit's advanced analysis and machine learning algorithms adapt differently to each body type and provide detailed sleep data.
There has been hope that Apple's acquisition of Beddit could lay the foundation for first-party sleep monitoring on the Apple Watch, but this FCC application does not appear to be related to the Apple Watch.

Tags: FCC, Beddit

Discuss this article in our forums