AT&T, T-Mobile And Verizon Vow To Stop Selling Location Data 01/14/2019

AT&T, T-Mobile And Verizon Vow To Stop Selling Location Data 01/14/2019

AT&T, T-Mobile And Verizon Vow To Stop Selling Location Data 01/14/2019

In June, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile pledged to end the practice of selling location data through intermediary companies. "From this, telecom companies also work out the phone's approximate location based on its proximity to those towers", Cox said. Motherboard paid a bond company $300 to track down one of their reporters using only a phone number. Sign up today to get wireless news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

It would have further expanded the scope of the Federal Trade Commission's authority to pursue privacy violators; at present, it can't even penalise first-time corporate offenders.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is trying to change that.

He is proposing legislation to better protect personal information.

It would be hard for a stalker or a suspicious boyfriend to get access to a phone's geolocation data through one of the aggregators, as they have company policies that prevent this.

That same March deadline was referenced by T-Mobile US's CEO John Legere who had promised last June to end the sale of subscribers' private location data.

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"We only permit sharing of location when a customer gives permission for cases like fraud prevention or emergency roadside assistance, or when required by law".

AT&T had already suspended its data-sharing agreements with a number of so-called "location aggregators" previous year in light of a congressional probe finding that some of Verizon's location data was being misused by prison officials to spy on innocent Americans.

However, carriers haven't said they'll completely stop selling or sharing data, even touting the benefits of this practice to consumers.Not all brokers engage in shady behavior; in fact, some of the services consumers rely on for protection use this data. "That's the problem and that's where the oversight is necessary", she said.

Despite the government shutdown, Congress is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to explain why mobile carriers are still selling customer location data.

Sprint said it does not "knowingly share personally identifiable geo-location information except with customer consent or in response to a lawful request such as a validated court order from law enforcement". But the carrier told The Verge it was at least ending a contract it had with location data aggregator Zumigo, which had been selling the information to MicroBilt. "We have previously stated that we are terminating the agreements we have with third party data aggregators and we are almost finished with that process", the company wrote in a statement.

After repeat questions on what that actually meant, a few days later T-Mobile US clarified that it was "winding down our location aggregation agreements".

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T-Mobile made a similar announcement yesterday, saying that it had already blocked location data requests from aggregator Zumigo (which was specifically mentioned in Motherboard's report) and that it was nearly done severing ties with other third-party data aggregators. "We're doing this right and shutting them down one by one, so customers who use this for safety services can make other arrangements", he added.

Earlier this week, after USA wireless carriers were put on blast for selling their users' location data without consent, the industry promptly promised to bring the practice to an end. T-Mobile reportedly is winding down this practice and will stop it altogether in March.

"This is not the Russian government or the North Korean government hacking into a system that hasn't been protected".

The Vice story said the data was accurate within a radius of about 1,500 feet.

"The FCC once again appears to have dragged its feet in protecting consumers", Pallone said in the letter.

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