AT&T Claims it will Stop Selling Your Location Data
13 January, 2019, 17:28 | Author: Eric Barnett
A T-Mobile spokesperson said the company takes customer privacy and security "very seriously and will not tolerate any misuse of our customers' data".
It was just past year 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 sensitive data was available because AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint sell the information to third-party "location aggregators".
The spokesman added that the company previously stopped "most" location aggregation services, but maintained "some that protect our customers, such as roadside assistance and fraud prevention". The report naturally caused concern amongst lawmakers and privacy advocates. Now the company says it will also end those sales in March. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen.
The calls come after reports from The New York Times and Vice that provided an alarming look at just how much location data is quietly collected through smartphones, and how that data can be accessed by third parties. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), took notice of this immediately and criticized the phone carriers for not taking enough measure for protecting their customers' data.
It is true that your phone can reveal everywhere you go even though you may not know about it. Cell towers and Global Positioning System data provide nearly accurate information about where you may be from time to time. "This entire ecosystem needs oversight".
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai hasn't offered any comment. But they already missed the June 2018 deadline (via ArsTechnica).
As Motherboard reported, there are legitimate uses for the sharing of location data, including detecting financial fraud or locating motorists who need roadside assistance. The bounty hunter received the triangulated cellphone tower data through his bail-bond company, which was able to buy it from a third-party vendor for as little as $12.95 per number. "Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers", Wyden wrote in a tweet. 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. "We do not knowingly share personally identifiable geolocation information except with customer consent or in response to a lawful request such as a validated court order from law enforcement".
Phones can often show your location with pinpoint accuracy, as well as your travel history, allowing anyone with access to find your home, your workplace and other areas you frequent. "Over the past few months, as we committed to do, we have been shutting down everything else". Wyden reiterated his call for Congress to pass his legislation banning carriers from selling mobile subscribers' location data.
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