An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard’s post: The American Privacy and Data Protection Act (ADPPA), a new federal privacy bill that actually has a chance to become law, is designed to introduce new privacy protections for Americans. But it could also have the side effect of wiping out $200 million in fines planned against some of the nation’s biggest telecommunications companies as part of a major location-data-selling scandal that saw the firms sell customer data that fell into the hands of bounties. hunters, etc. The challenge centers on the ADPPA’s transfer of enforcement oversight of privacy-related matters from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which proposed the fines, to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The news highlights the complex pushes and pulls of developing privacy legislation, as well as some of the pitfalls along the way.

In February 2020, the FCC proposed a $200 million fine. The fines came after Motherboard found that the carriers sold the phone’s location data to a complex supply chain of companies that then provided it to hundreds of bounty hunters and other third parties, including one who allowed Motherboard to track the phone for just $300. The fines also came after The New York Times and Sen. Ron Wyden’s office found that carriers sold location data in a similar way to a company called Securus that allowed law enforcement officials to track phones without a warrant. The former sheriff abused the tool to spy on judges and other officials. The offending telecommunications companies — AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon — said they stopped selling location data at various points in time in response to the investigation. The FCC then found that the carriers broke the law by selling such data.

FCC spokeswoman Paloma Perez told Motherboard in an emailed statement that “our real-time location information is some of the most sensitive data about us, and it deserves the highest level of privacy protection. That’s why the FCC has proposed more than $200 million in fines against the nation’s largest wireless carriers for selling their customers’ location data Through our ongoing oversight, we have ensured that these carriers are no longer monetizing their consumers’ real-time locations in this manner, and we are continuing to investigate these practices and expect to reach a conclusion very soon.” In July, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenwortzel sent letters to US telecommunications, technology and retail companies questioning their use of location data.

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