Public Knowledge Commends FCC for Addressing Consumer Privacy in E911 FNPRM

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks to adopt a vertical, or “Z-axis,” metric to enhance location accuracy for wireless E911 calls. The vote follows a recent Motherboard investigation into carriers selling or giving away this information to third parties. Public Knowledge recently filed an ex parte arguing for amending the FNPRM to address this oversight and applauds Commissioner Geoffrey Starks for taking consumer privacy concerns seriously.

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of Public Knowledge:

“When people in trouble use a wireless phone to call 911, they want to know that first responders can find them no matter where they are -- but ‘first responders’ does not include bounty hunters, debt collectors, or stalkers who scam information from carriers by pretending to be police.

“For this reason, we applaud the FCC for taking allegations that carriers have both misused, and failed to adequately protect, information collected under the previous Enhanced 911 (E911) geolocation mandate seriously by addressing these privacy concerns in the FNPRM. We especially appreciate Commissioner Starks’ work to champion this issue on behalf of consumers.

“We welcome the FCC’s move to ensure that carriers protect this geolocation information, and hope the agency will consider whether new precautions should be required to shield consumer privacy. Just as agency silence translates to the sound of the dinner bell to unethical location services and to carriers eager to sell out their customers, agency action sends a clear warning that carriers must embrace their responsibilities or face real consequences. We hope the FCC will quickly conclude its investigation into the current allegations, and we look forward to working with the FCC to improve the protection of sensitive geolocation data intended for first responders.”

You may view our recent blog post, “Will the FCC Keep Ignoring Carriers That Sell Your GPS Data?,” for more information.

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