Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Phone Carriers Selling Customer Location Data

Phone Carriers Selling Customer Location Data

"Last year we stopped most location aggregation services while maintaining some that protect our customers, such as roadside assistance and fraud prevention", AT&T said in a statement provided to Ars today. "In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have chose to eliminate all location aggregation services - even those with clear consumer benefits". However, we've now learned that a different "Securus" - MicroBilt - has been selling phone geolocation services with little oversight to a spread of different private industries.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who previously vowed to stop selling location data, reiterated this week that the company will do so by March.

According to Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, they are stepping up there efforts to crack down on the misuse of customer location data after an investigation this week disclosed that how easy it was for the third parties to track the locations of customers. Back then, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) discovered that a company called Securus Technologies was selling people's location data to the cops, and insisted that America's telecoms watchdog the FCC investigate. Wyden has found another supporter in the form of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). The company also stated that it was working to fulfil its promise made last summer to sever ties with third-party data aggregators.

"There are no good laws except the one that's going to be on the books in California in 2020 to make these companies pay a big price for when they violate their promises and betray your privacy", Court said in a phone interview.

Amid increasing pressure from federal lawmakers, three of the major USA wireless carriers announced plans to end the sale of location data sharing after a report by Motherboard showed just how easy it was for a bounty hunter to track a reporter's phone.

Government shutdown is now longest ever in USA history
Trump , holed up in the White House with Congress adjourned for the weekend, warned of a much lengthier impasse and blamed the Democrats.


It was just a year ago when Senator Ron Wyden wrote to the Federal Communications Commission about Securus, a firm that that was offering geolocation of phones to low-level law enforcement without a warrant, thereby jeopardizing cell phone locations of not only inmates, but anyone with a phone number - which is pretty much everyone.

The FCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment; the agency's operations are limited because of the ongoing government shutdown. He said Congress should advance his legislation that would grant the FTC greater authority to safeguard consumer data and fine companies for privacy and security violations. As an illustrative example, Joseph Cox of Motherboard managed to track down the real-time location of his friend (who was a willing participant in the experiment) for just $300. Thanks to the sale of this data, the location of nearly any smartphone can be found using just the user's phone number.

"We take the privacy and security of our customers' information very seriously and will not tolerate any misuse of our customers' data. Over the past few months, as we committed to do, we have been shutting down everything else". These companies then sold that data to other companies, and so on and so forth.

"Responsible federal agencies and the U.S. Congress should continue to hold hearings to shine a light on these practices, and look at regulations to ensure companies are actually upfront with consumers about whether and how their sensitive data is being used and sold", Warner said in a statement.

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