Dem calls for hearing on alleged wireless data disclosures

Dem calls for hearing on alleged wireless data disclosures
© Getty Images

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is calling for a hearing on reports that wireless location-tracking data is being shared without consumers’ approval.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices House Dems want answers on cuts to ObamaCare outreach groups Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments MORE (D-N.J.) is urging Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDominant internet platforms must disrupt themselves Hammond pardons raise fears of emboldened anti-government extremists Oregon ranchers pardoned by Trump fly home on Pence donor's private jet MORE (R-Ore.) to convene a hearing to determine if the alleged data leaks at LocationSmart and Securus violated the law.

"A hearing on how this information was made available is necessary to better understand whether the privacy protections in the Communications Act were violated and whether Congress needs to take action to ensure users' data are protected," Pallone wrote in a letter to Walden. "The issues raised by this incident mirrors the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal and similarly must be closely scrutinized."


Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that a former sheriff in Mississippi had been using a Securus service to track the location of cell phones of people including other officers. 

Later in May, a cybersecurity researcher discovered that another company called LocationSmart had exposed that kind of location data on its site. The company said that it has found no evidence that the data was exploited.

The FCC has said that it is investigating.

"The committee shares the concerns raised and is considering the request,” a spokeswoman for Walden said in a statement to The Hill.

Pallone said he’s concerned that there’s little to prevent companies from carelessly using and disclosing users’ precise location data.

“The reports detailing the wide availability of consumers’ cell phone location information and the vulnerabilities in the relevant databases and systems that third-parties used to store this information suggest gaps in the law or enforcement,” Pallone wrote.