back to article FCC's answer to scandal of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US selling people's location data: Burying its head in the ground

America's comms watchdog, the FCC, is under fire for refusing to brief Congressional staffers on what exactly it is doing about cellular networks selling citizens' location data to dodgy characters. Earlier this month, the fact that mobile operators continue to sell access to their users' real-time whereabouts to unscrupulous …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its worse than that...

    AT&T sent out text messages claiming that I agreed to their use of my location data and allow them to resell it.

    I never agreed and this is tantamount to either slamming or opt-out.

    Looks like AT&T are setting it up to say that they only sell data of people who gave them permission to sell it.

    Clearly that's a joke and they should be held accountable.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Its worse than that...

      My mum uses AT&T & has a very old 4G phone. She was "amazed!" how her piece of crap smartphone from circa 2010 is "now capable of a technology that hadn't even been invented yet when ((her phone)) was made!" All because AT&T pushed out the icon change to a device they couldn't be arsed to issue *security updates* for in over five years.

      AT&T: putting the fun in dysfunctional.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: they should be held accountable

      I'm sorry, a corporation being held accountable ? In the United States ?

      The country defined by corporate lobbying ?

      Ah, what's the point - I'm outta here.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: they should be held accountable

        Yes, the US still holds companies accountable from time to time.

        Of course with this shutdown nothing it going to get done.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just HOW big are Pai's brown envelopes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You don't understand how it works

      They don't get bribes while they have their administration posting. That is clearly illegal and would lead to guaranteed jail time if exposed so only a few clueless idiots do that. Instead, after they leave they get big money as "consultants" that don't actually do anything, or for serving on boards that hardly ever meet. IF they play ball. If they don't, they won't get such offers.

      No one needs to make any promises, no money needs to change hands in exchange for favors, so nothing is done which violates any laws. It is all just understood, because everyone does this and always has, in both republican and democrat administrations. This is the swamp Trump promised to drain, which has instead been getting deeper since he took office. Don't look for that to change, even if a "do-gooder" like Sanders is elected in 2020.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You don't understand how it works

        I just want to say... THIS is how the U.S. government truly works. In the third world, people pay bribes. Bribes for everything to get anything done. We don't pay bribes in the U.S. At least, the average citizen does not. The vast majority of graft is exactly the way the previous comment stated. Campaign contributions and a promise of a 250k per year consultant job when its all over. Just play ball. The lobbying game IS the graft in our society, and its graft from the weathiest to the wealthiest. Bernie Sanders has been in public life all his life... yet he's a multimillionaire. The Clinton's were just about broke when they went to the White House, and now they have hundreds of millions. That Clinton charity wasn't the focus of the GOP for nothing. As long as one can get rich (million$ and million$) serving in public office in the U.S. .. through shady book deals, though shady stock deals, though shady deals of ALL types that LOOK on the surface as if they are legit, then the graft in the U.S. system just keeps pouring in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You don't understand how it works

          As far as Bernie goes, I would think pretty poorly of the financial management skills of anyone who failed to become a millionaire on a senator's salary. You'd have to REALLY work hard to avoid it, by either getting yourself a really big drug habit or giving away several tens of thousands of dollars a year to charity.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: You don't understand how it works

            ", I would think pretty poorly of the financial management skills of anyone who failed to become a millionaire on a senator's salary."

            Really? How much do they get paid?

          2. wjake

            Re: You don't understand how it works

            A US Senator's salary is 174,000. Majority Leader and other posts make more. Nobody is getting rich off that. They are also allowed million(s) in some cases, for staff, office expenses and whatever else they can make look official. But skimming that money for personal use would be frowned upon. They are also limited to 15% of their salary in outside earned income.

            WSJ showed that most Senators are already millionaires before they are elected. Bernie Sanders is not that wealthy, most of his net worth is tied up in home equity and his recent 6 or 7 figure book deal.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You don't understand how it works

              If you make $174,000 a year and have no children living at home you have absolutely not excuse for not socking away plenty of that and with normal investment gains from a safe portfolio like index funds getting to a million dollars is easy.

              I made it to "millionaire" status by my mid 30s and my best earning years weren't all that much more than $174K. Granted I wasn't living in a city as expensive as DC, but I daresay I spend more on booze and women than Bernie :)

              A decamillionaire is the real mark of success, that's what a millionaire was in the 70s.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: You don't understand how it works

          "The Clinton's were just about broke when they went to the White House,"

          Is that a normal persons definition of "almost broke" or the definition used the 1% of 1%ers?

          1. Remy Redert

            Re: You don't understand how it works

            Both. They had considerably more assets than normal people tend to ever have, however they were also up to their ears in debt, as most of those assets couldn't be easily converted to useable money and they were spending more money than they had coming in.

          2. Ian Michael Gumby

            Re: You don't understand how it works

            The Clintons were 'broke' when they left the White House.

            Due to legal expenses over Monica.

            They made their first big money from the Presidential Library Foundation which morphed in to the Clinton Foundation that raked is much more cash...

            Then his speaking engagements and Hillary as SoS... 500K for 45 min of work? sign me up....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You don't understand how it works

              Every ex-president gets paid big bucks for speaking engagements. Reagan used to make at least that much (after adjustment for inflation) as did both Bushes and more recently Obama.

              Instead to trying to use the presidency to get rich through shady hotel deals with Russia or whatever, Trump should have realized that merely being president would open him up to big speaking fees. He's better at speaking in front of crowds than he is as a businessman anyway so it would be win/win for him. As it is now he's going to need do a lot of speaking engagements afford the lawyers to keep himself and his kids out of jail after he leaves office! Real ones not "TV lawyers" like Rudy "truth isn't truth" Guliani.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: You don't understand how it works

        Instead, after they leave they get big money as "consultants" that don't actually do anything, or for serving on boards that hardly ever meet.

        Indeed. Pai was a Verizon employee before he was in the FCC. He's still a Verizon employee; it's just his compensation is deferred until he leaves the FCC.

  3. Jay Lenovo

    What's the difference?

    The FCC has been affected by the partial US government shutdown – now into its 24th day – and has stopped non-essential services

    Like maintaining rules and oversight, but that may have already been suspended long before.

  4. Wolfclaw

    Pai probably has nice little job with big bucks waiting for him from big telco once he leaves the FCC a useless gibbering mess. he should be removed fromoffice immediately and investigated !

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I take it the US has nothing equivalent to the Select Committee system of the HoC. If it had he'd be summoned to appear in front of them to explain why he was ignoring such letters.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Congress can subpoena someone to appear before them but expect a hell of a court fight before it means anything. One dim possibility is that the FCC is a creature of Congress if you go look at the statutes authorizing its creation.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Why are we surprised?

    If Sir John Acton is to be believed, the purportedly most powerful government in the world should be the most corrupt government in the world.

  7. Big Al 23

    There is zero accountability of the FTC, FCC and SEC

    These political government entities do whatever their chairpersons feel like doing contrary to their obligations under law to protect the populace.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Academics

    Subpoena the paihole, and then hold him in contempt of Congress when he doesn't show up.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    Doesn't the shutdown mean...

    .... government agencies has to work without Pai?

    Maybe they could shutdown FCC until Pai expires, at least he can't do more damage?

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    They don't even pretend to pretend

    It's a complete and utter joke. They know nobody will actually do anything.

  11. NightFox


    Me: "OK, I'll stop by the end of March"

    Policeman: "OK."

  12. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    To be honest the shutdown is a pretty good excuse

    Sure, the Ajit is abusing it in bad faith, and he would have found another one uf needed, but the shutdown does play nucely i to his hand.

    In fact, perhaps paralyzing governmental bodies and getting their employees to resign massively (in order to get a paid job and foot the bills, buy food etc) was really yhe Donald's hidden goal all along ?

  13. Eddy Ito

    The bigger problem is there is nothing codified in the law just agency rules which are at the whim of the figurehead. If the congresscritters were serious they'd be pushing for legislation which actually has teeth and not finger wagging at the particular burrocrat acting as figurehead for not tweaking the agency rules to their liking.

    Note - this applies to all agencies not just the FCC and it's a broader symptom of congresscritters shirking their own responsibilities and being too busy tweeting insults back and forth instead of getting on with their real job. It doesn't matter if we're talking about net neutrality or the war powers act, congress largely just sits aside inciting division, outrage, and hate while drumming up support from their base because all that's really important is keeping their cushy job.

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