Who’s Guarding the LTE Data?
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | Comments

With the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) beginning to officially announce its first subscribers, FirstNet officials and public-safety users on that network need to think about the data they are collecting and transmitting and how to store, protect and analyze it.

Bill Schrier, FirstNet senior advisor, said during a January interview that individual agencies will be responsible for collecting and storing data. He said the FirstNet network will have end-to-end security for the data in transit, but agencies must work out how to handle the data once it’s downloaded from the network.

“Our main work on privacy is not owning the data,” Schrier said. “It will be up to individual jurisdictions and cloud providers to collect, store and own that data. AT&T and FirstNet will be a pass-through pipe for that data. It will be up to the agencies and governments to keep it safe and secure.”

The lines will especially blur for agencies that adopt bring your own device (BYOD) policies, which AT&T executives have said the carrier will embrace. If I use my iPhone on the FirstNet network and I receive a personal text, where is that text stored? I can look back at that text several days after I receive it, so it’s being stored somewhere. Who is responsible for privacy of personal items on a smartphone used on the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN)?

All agencies need to consider data issues and realize AT&T isn’t taking full responsibility for your data. Not only should agencies be thoughtful about the data they collect, they need to consider best methods to store and protect it.

With commercial networks and third-party apps involved, keeping hackers and others with bad intentions away from critical public-safety data will be much different than it has been for mission-critical voice networks. The fitness device data that was publicly available on a map showing locations and activities of military personnel is just one example of unintended security breaches.

Public-safety broadband data issues need to be the next big project public-safety groups and associations tackle.

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