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Verizon to stop selling phone location data to third parties

22 June, 2018, 02:22 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Verizon, AT&T are cutting off location-data sharing contracts

Yet relatively few knew that wireless carriers like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint sell that location data to brokers, effectively knocking over the first domino in a series of transactions involving their personal info.

The Verizon logo is seen on the side of a truck in New York City, U.S., October 13, 2016.

On Twitter, T-Mobile CEO's also chimed in, and said the data-sharing was coming to an end. Verizon confirmed in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, who has been probing the issue, that it's cutting off location data to third-party brokers.

Wyden contacted the major carriers after his probe found that a prison phone company called Securus Technologies with access to such data had allowed law enforcement to use it to track people.

Verizon did not respond to questions from the AP on whether it plans to sell location data directly that had been brokered by the two California companies. "Verizon has notified these location aggregators that it intends to terminate their ability to access and use our customers' location data as soon as possible", the company wrote.

T-Mobile didn't address issues with third-party data brokers more generally, but said in a recent letter to Sen.

The FCC announced an investigation into the LocationSmart leak last month, in the wake of reports about the LocationSmart data leak.

LocationSmart and Securus did not respond to a request for comment. "The company does not warehouse or track a mobile user's historic identity and location information", said the company.


Sprint hinted that its privacy policy allows the phone giant to share customers' personal data, "including location information" with third-parties. Securus users - typically law-enforcement and correctional facilities - were able to sidestep the usual court-authorized requirements on tracking customer locations. Rather, it deals with the practice of selling data to third parties with which users have no direct connection.

Privacy advocates called the carriers' decision a small victory, but called for further safeguards on consumer data.

Sprint, in a statement to The Verge, confirmed that it would be ending the sale of subscriber location data as well.

Wyden asked the carriers to identify which third parties have been acquiring carrier location data and to provide details such as any third-party sharing of location data without customer consent.

"Verizon deserves credit for taking quick action to protect its customers' privacy and security", Wyden said in a statement at the same time as he published the letters.

LocationSmart pushed back against Wyden's characterization, insisting in a statement that it "does not buy or sell location information, nor does it permit the sharing of location information about any mobile device without a user's consent". "We will not enter into new location aggregation arrangements unless and until we are comfortable that we can adequately protect our customers' location data through technological advancements and/or other practices".

As for T-Mobile and Sprint, things are still up in the air.

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