May 18, 2018

Wyden Praises FCC Decision to Investigate Flaw Allowing Real-Time Tracking of Millions of Americans

Calls on FCC Chairman Pai to Recuse Himself From Investigation Over Past Work

Washington, D.C. –Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised the FCC’s reported decision to open an investigation into reports that a simple flaw on the website of location aggregator LocationSmart allowed nearly any hacker to track the phones of millions of Americans in real time. LocationSmart reportedly obtains location data from all of the major U.S. wireless carriers and then sells it to marketing firms and other companies.

Those reports followed Wyden’s discovery that the prison phone provider Securus Technologies knowingly allows its government clients to track Americans without verifying that the prison guards and sheriffs who use the service had valid court orders. Securus informed Senator Wyden’s office that it obtained location data from 3cinteractive, a Florida company, which in turn reportedly obtained Americans’ location data from LocationSmart. Last week, Wyden asked the FCC to investigate the practice, and called on wireless carriers to notify customers which third parties have access to their location data.

 “The location aggregation industry has operated with essentially no oversight by the Federal Communications Commission. The only real surprise is that it took this long for the public to learn that the wireless carriers and their business partners were demonstrating such a total disregard for Americans’ privacy and safety. I’m pleased the FCC is opening an investigation into the reported data leak by LocationSmart.” Wyden said. “The negligent attitude toward Americans’ security and privacy by wireless carriers and intermediaries puts every American at risk. I urge the FCC expand the scope of this investigation, and to more broadly probe the practice of third parties buying real-time location data on Americans.”

Wyden also called on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who served as an attorney for Securus in 2012, to recuse himself from the investigation due to his clear conflict of interest.

“Chairman Pai’s past work for Securus makes it untenable for Mr. Pai to lead this investigation. I call on Mr. Pai to do the responsible thing and recuse himself from the investigation.”