Lawmaker Asks FCC for Emergency Briefing

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J. Alex Brandon/AP

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The House Energy and Commerce committee chairman wants location data answers, now.

The government may be shut down, but one lawmaker wants information from the Federal Communications Commission right away.

What's so urgent? Mobile carriers continue to sell our location data.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai requesting an emergency briefing on the practice and what the agency plans to do about it

The lawmaker activity follows a report from Motherboard detailing the extent to which mobile carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile were selling location data to third parties without customer consent.

Pallone requested the meeting for Monday, whether or not the government was still shut down.

"An emergency briefing is necessary in the interest of public safety and national security, and therefore cannot wait until President Trump decides to reopen the government," Pallone wrote, adding the potential effect location data selling could have on certain government employees and others.  "The privacy and security of everyone who subscribes to wireless phone service from certain carriers -- including government officials, military personnel, domestic violence victims and law enforcement officials -- may be compromised."

Pallone isn't alone. Last week, Senators Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Mark Warner, D.-Va. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. all called for an FCC investigation into the matter

But the mobile carriers that are under fire may be trying to preemptively fix the problem. AT&T said on Jan. 10 that it would entirely stop selling customer location data to third party service providers, the Washington Post reports. T-Mobile and Verizon have also announced plans to end the practice. This may not be enough to stave off the wrath of Congress and the FCC, however.