Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai won't brief a Congressional committee Monday about mobile carriers' ability to share their subscribers' location data with third parties.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sought Pai for an emergency briefing after a Motherboard investigation revealed carriers are selling customers' location data. But the committee was told the FCC boss wouldn't appear due to the ongoing government shutdown.
"In a phone conversation today, his staff asserted that these egregious actions are not a threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown," the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement.
Pallone noted that Pai is, even though the shutdown resulted in the FCC ceasing most of its operations on Jan. 3.
"There's nothing in the law that should stop the Chairman personally from meeting about this serious threat that could allow criminals to track the location of police officers on patrol, victims of domestic abuse, or foreign adversaries to track military personnel on American soil," he said.
The FCC, however, stood firm in an emailed statement.
"The Commission has been investigating wireless carriers' handling of location information," a spokesperson wrote. "Unfortunately, we were required to suspend that investigation earlier this month because of the lapse in funding, and pursuant to guidance from our expert attorneys, the career staff that is working on this issue are currently on furlough."
It noted that the investigation would continue once normal FCC operations resume.
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who questioned last May why cops cat videos and tired memes" instead of briefing Congress.in seconds, reportedly slammed Pai for tweeting "
"It's a new low for someone who has spent his tenure at the FCC refusing to do his job and stand up for American consumers," Wyden said in a statement to Gizmodo.
One of the third parties using the location data is credit reporting company Microbilt, which is offering to "track down delinquent debtors" via its Mobile Device Verify service.
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