U.S. agency to probe how mobile carriers use consumer location data

A person uses a mobile phone as the crowd grows in Times Square ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., December 31, 2021. REUTERS/Stefan Jeremiah

WASHINGTON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The Federal Communications Commission said Thursday the agency will investigate mobile carriers’ compliance with rules requiring them to disclose to consumers how they are using and sharing location data.

"This information and geolocation data is really

sensitive. It’s a record of where we’ve been and who we are," FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. "That’s why the FCC is taking steps to ensure this data is protected."

In July, Rosenworcel asked the 15 top mobile carriers including Verizon , AT&T (T.N), T-Mobile (TMUS.O), Comcast, Alphabet's Google Fi (GOOGL.O) and Charter Communications (CHTR.O) for information about their data retention and privacy policies and practices. The FCC released the responses Thursday and made it easier for consumers to file complaints on the FCC website.

In February 2020, the FCC proposed fining four major U.S. wireless carriers over $200 million for failing to protect consumers' location information.

The issue has drawn new interest in recent months.

In July, Google said it would delete location data showing when users visit an abortion clinic, following concerns that a digital trail could inform law enforcement if an individual terminates a pregnancy illegally.

As states have implemented new abortion restrictions, concern has grown that police could obtain warrants for customers’ search histories, location and other information that would reveal pregnancy plans.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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