The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Oklahoma City-based TerraCom and its affilate partner YourTel America for storing personal user data online without any security encryption or firewalls. The companies will have to pay $10 million fine for failing to secure user data of more than 305,000 customers.
The carriers are a part of Universal Service Fund Lifeline, a government initiative that provides mobile services to low-income families at lower rates. The carriers had requested the date of birth, social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and other personal data for checking the eligibility. The FCC stated that instead of destroying or storing the data in secure servers, the carriers had posted the information online that were accessible to the public.
These companies made their customer’s personal, sensitive information publicly accessible to all over the world via Internet,” said Travis LeBlanc, FCC’s enforcement official.
The $10 million fine will be shared by YourTel and TerraCom and did not comment on the matter. The FCC added that the carriers failed to notify the users and deprived them of the opportunity to protect personal information. The commission stated that it would take action for unreasonable data practices. The violation was noticed by reporters of Scripps Howard News Service who reported it to the FCC.
The FCC fine for data security violations is the largest till date with the commissions growing involvement in privacy violations. Recently, Verizon was fined $7.4 million for marketing more than two million users without their consent. With a growing role as a privacy regulator and watching the data breaches of consumers, the FCC is warning other carriers that put American consumers at risk of fraud and identity theft.
What’s your opinion? Will these companies overcome from these big slap by the FCC?
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