NYC Eyes Bill to Block Telecoms From Sharing Customer Data

MANHATTAN (CN) – The New York City Council introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit cellphone companies and app developers from sharing customers’ data while the customers are within the city’s five boroughs.

If the bill passes, the city would be the first in the country to ban such data sales.

The bill was introduced at the City Council’s stated meeting Tuesday by Councilman Justin L. Brannan, a Brooklyn Democrat. New York is one of several cities acting to protect its citizens’ data in the absence of congressional action on the issue.

“Big telecom companies are making millions $$ by selling our location data without our knowledge — forget about even asking our permission,” Brannan tweeted Tuesday.

“It’s time to put an end to Big Brother Big Business. And if the federal gov[ernment] won’t do it, NYC will.”

The proposed bill comes with steep fines for data sales: $1,000 per violation, and up to $10,000 per user per day, enforced by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, according to its description.

Companies sell their customers’ location data to third parties all the time, including for legitimate reasons. But this bill would force companies to avoid sharing that data unless the customer had specifically asked for the service.

Exceptions include data shared with emergency services or required under law.

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