T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T have come under fire after a new report indicated that third-party brokers are still selling access to their customers’ location data seven months after the carriers vowed to stop the practice.
A report published on Tuesday by Motherboard showed that by paying a bounty hunter $300, a reporter was able to locate the cell phone of T-Mobile customer who consented to be part of the test.
The bounty hunter located the phone in Queens, New York using a subscription to location data broker Microbilt, which in turn got the data from another company Zumigo, which directly buys location data from carriers, according to the report.
In addition to T-Mobile phones, the bounty hunter was willing to locate customers of Sprint and AT&T, but was unwilling or unable to locate Verizon phones, Motherboard reported.
T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T have come under fire after a new report indicated that third-party brokers are still selling access to their customers’ location data (stock photo)
T-Mobile CEO John Legere pledge to stop selling user location data to ‘shady’ dealers in June
Microbilt’s promotional material, which markets its service to debt collectors, bounty hunters and loan originators, states that it has access to location data for ‘any mobile phone’ in the U.S.
It comes after Verizon as well as the other three major carriers vowed to stop selling location data to brokers in June after Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, criticized the industry over the practice.
‘I’ve personally evaluated this issue & have pledged that @tmobile will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen,’ wrote T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a tweet on June 19.
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com late on Tuesday, but told Motherboard: ‘We take the privacy and security of our customers’ information very seriously and will not tolerate any misuse of our customers’ data.’
‘While T-Mobile does not have a direct relationship with Microbilt, our vendor Zumigo was working with them and has confirmed with us that they have already shut down all transmission of T-Mobile data. T-Mobile has also blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo on behalf of Microbilt as an additional precaution,’ the company’s statement continued.
Sprint and AT&T also issued statement in June vowing to discontinue the practice of selling location data.
The report showed a bounty hunter was able to locate a T-Mobile phone for $300 (stock photo)
A Sprint spokeswoman told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that ‘protecting our customers’ privacy and security is a top priority’ for the company.
‘We do 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,’ the spokeswoman said in a statement. ‘We are investigating this matter and it would be inappropriate to comment further until that process is complete.’
AT&T said in a statement to DailyMail.com on Tuesday: ‘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.’
‘Over the past few months, as we committed to do, we have been shutting down everything else. We have shut down access for MicroBilt as we investigate these allegations,’ the statement continued.
Senator Wyden called on Congress to pass his proposed legislation in response to the report
In light of the latest revelations, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said on Twitter that her agency needed to investigated the issue ‘stat.’
Senator Wyden, who has crusaded for tighter data privacy rules, called on Congress to pass his proposed legislation to crack down on the abuse of consumer data.
Wyden called the revelation ‘a nightmare for national security and the personal safety of anyone with a phone.’
‘Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers,’ Wyden said in a statement. ‘It’s time for Congress to take action by passing my bill to safeguard consumer data and hold companies accountable.’