Yesterday, reports surfaced that Voipo, a California voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) provider, exposed millions of consumer call logs and text messages stored on an “improperly secured” ElasticSearch database for several months before security researcher Justin Paine located them.
On Tuesday, Motherboard published an article exposing the jaw-dropping ease of data collection and commercialization practices that can allow a stranger to find a cell phone’s location with just a phone number and $300. Motherboard’s investigation found that telecommunications companies, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, would sell location data with an aggregator, which sold the data to MicroBilt, which then sold it to a Motherboard investigator for “dirt cheap.”
When people use the internet, they provide a vast amount of personal, often sensitive information. Ill-protected personal information can result in anything from predatory advertising to fraud. Consumers need strong rules and aggressive agencies to protect their online privacy. The Federal Communications Commission is the agency in charge of implementing and enforcing communications law and regulations. The FCC is ideally situated to protect consumers’ information on communications networks, considering its success in protecting subscribers’ privacy in other areas such as telephone and cable networks.
Public Knowledge will host a press briefing Wednesday, June 8 at noon ET featuring public interest privacy experts who support the Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to broaden privacy protections online. Broadband providers enjoy a comprehensive view of consumer data, and may be tempted to use it in anticompetitive ways or violate a customer’s privacy. This proposal marks a significant step forward in the FCC’s commitment to follow its congressional mandate by extending the same protections offered to telephone service subscribers to broadband customers.