AT&T to stop selling all location data to brokers following report that companies are passing the information to shadowy firms without customer knowledge
- AT&T says it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to data brokers as some information has been used for unorthodox purposes
- The move follows a report showing how bounty hunters can track phone locations using carrier data
- T-Mobile CEO’s John Legere said the company will wind down all third-party location data sharing by March
AT&T says it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to brokers following a report that companies are still passing on that information to shadowy firmswithout customer knowledge.
Last year, AT&T and other carriers pledged to stop providing location information to data brokers.
But AT&T made an exception for useful services that, for instance, help customers with roadside assistance or fraud protection. Now the company says it will also end those sales in March.
The move follows a Tuesday report on Vice’s Motherboard site that showed how bounty hunters can track phone locations using carrier data.
AT&T says it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones after it was revealed the information is continuing to fall into the wrong hands
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has been pushing mobile providers to end location-data sales.
He said Thursday that Congress needs to pass legislation to ensure they come to a halt.
The sensitive data was available because AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint sell the information to third-party ‘location aggregator’, PCMag reported.
The partnerships can power services such as bank fraud prevention and emergency roadside assistance in addition to online ads and marketing deals, which depend on knowing your whereabouts.
Motherboard first reported how bounty hunters were selling access to the real-time information for only a few hundred dollars.
The investigation chronicled a journalist hiring a bounty hunter to track down their cell phone location using telecom data.
This led to several lawmakers calling for an investigation into the practice of data sharing.
All the location tracking should occur with customer consent.
In Motherboard’s case, the bounty hunter gained access to the sensitive data from a credit risk management firm called MicroBilt.
It was offering the location tracking to landlords, motor vehicle salesman, and others conducting credit checks.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (pictured) has been pushing mobile providers to end location-data sales
T-Mobile CEO’s John Legere (pictured) tweeted that his company was winding down all third-party location data sharing by March
‘In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have decided to eliminate all location aggregation services—even those with clear consumer benefits,’ an AT&T spokesman told PCMag.
T-Mobile CEO’s John Legere tweeted that his company was winding down all third-party location data sharing by March.
‘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.
Verizon was not among the carriers flagged in Motherboard’s report.
Nevertheless, the company told PCMag it has been winding down its existing location tracking agreements with third parties since pledging to take action last June.
‘We have maintained the prior arrangements for four roadside assistance companies during the winter months for public safety reasons, but they have agreed to transition out of the existing arrangements by the end of the March.
‘We have terminated all other such arrangements,’ the company said in a statement.