The chairman is blaming government shutdown…
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has decided not to brief a Congressional committee on Monday about mobile carriers’ abilities to share their subscribers’ location data with third parties, even if those subscribers are not aware of the sharing or unwilling to share.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., who is the chair of the congressional House Committee on Energy and Commerce, reached out to Pai for an emergency briefing after a Motherboard investigation revealed that carriers are selling their customers’ location data. The committee was told theleader of the FCC wouldn’t appear due to the government shutdown.
“In a phone conversation today, his staff asserted that these egregious actions are not a threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown,” the N.J. Democrat said in a statement.
Pai is said to still be working, even though the FCC has had most of its operating set aside during the shutdown.
“There’s nothing in the law that should stop the Chairman personally from meeting about this serious threat that could allow criminals to track the location of police officers on patrol, victims of domestic abuse, or foreign adversaries to track military personnel on American soil,” he said.
The FCC, however, has decided to stand firm in an emailed statement:
“The Commission has been investigating wireless carriers’ handling of location information,” the spokesperson wrote. “Unfortunately, we were required to suspend that investigation earlier this month because of the lapse in funding, and pursuant to guidance from our expert attorneys, the career staff that is working on this issue are currently on furlough.”
It noted that the investigation could continue once FCC operations resume.
To note, some of the companies accessing this data are being given a significant amount of power just by having the ability to query it. One of the third-party organizations that is using the location data is the credit reporting company Microbilt, which is offering a service to “track down delinquent debtors” via its Mobile Device Verify service…
Ajit Pai is the same lead of the FCC that had pushed the decision to repeal net neutrality.