The FCC's track record on essentially meaningless fines
That $200 million sounds like a lot of money, but everything's relative.
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Even before the FCC announced Friday that it's fining the four biggest U.S. wireless phone companies $208 million for selling access to real-time location data of their customers without their permission, critics were already slamming the fines as too low.
In a statement Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden called the proposed fines "comically inadequate fines that won't stop phone companies from abusing Americans' privacy the next time they can make a quick buck," and in a tweet, he reiterated the need for privacy legislation.
The wireless carriers had continued to share their customers' coordinates even after telling members of Congress they would stop, prompting an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Let's put the proposed fines in perspective.
It's not the first time — and probably won't be the last — that FCC fines have been criticized for not being enough of a deterrent against future violations.
Other FCC fines that have been called toothless or inadequate include the following:
Levi Sumagaysay (@levisu) is a former Silicon Valley reporter at Protocol. Previously, she was a tech reporter at The San Jose Mercury News, where she covered everything from artificial intelligence to IPOs, tech culture, news about big tech, and more. Levi has edited or written technology news since the first dot-com boom, and was for a time the writer of Good Morning Silicon Valley, one of the earliest tech blogs/newsletters.