FCC Probes T-Mobile after High-Profile Cyber Hack

Diane Lilli


T-Mobile US Inc has endured cyber hacks before, but the latest breach this week, in the public communications segment, is their largest yet.

On Monday, the communications giant reported the hack to the public, saying hackers stole sensitive data including about 48 million current and potential client’s social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and more.

The Federal Trade Commission (FCC) is now probing the cyber hack in its first official investigation following President Joe Biden’s policy to aggressively hold businesses accountable for securing clients’ sensitive data

On Wednesday, an FCC spokesperson said the agency is focusing upon cyber crimes and how US companies are protecting Americans, which do not fall under federal but also state guidelines. Under the 1934 Communications Act, the FCC may compel businesses to pay steep fines for lax security systems in regard to customer’s data.

The FCC has penalized numerous US companies due to lax client data protection, including a $3.5 million penalty to wireless carriers and a $25 million settlement from AT&T,  due in part to the companies not securing customer information in a reasonable manner or mishandling personal data.

“Telecommunications companies have a duty to protect their customers’ information,” said the FCC spokesperson. 

The FCC has specific cybersecurity recommendations and guidelines, though many of their rules are not mandatory. At issue in part is the reality that major companies including US communications networks store the personal data of past, current, and potential clients. 

It is not illegal to store clients’ or potential clients’ data. However, with cybersecurity occurrences now not only surging but also expected, the way firm stores its data is under scrutiny. 

The reported cybercrime cases within the US in 2020  were 1001 instances, which translates into over 155.8 million individuals impacted by sensitive data theft.

Although deals of the FCC T-Mobile probe is not public at this time, numerous cyber security experts are calling for new laws to protect consumers. Is it legal for T-Mobile or other telecom businesses to store social security numbers or driver’s license information? 

McFee reports the cost of cybercrime for businesses is now over $1 Trillion.