AT&T Claims it will Stop Selling Your Location Data

All you need to track any phone’s location is a small bribe

Amid increasing pressure from federal lawmakers, three of the major United States 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.

AT&T had already suspended its data-sharing agreements with a number of so-called "location aggregators" past year in light of a congressional probe finding that some of Verizon's location data was being misused by prison officials to spy on innocent Americans.

The development follows an investigation conducted by Vice's Motherboard where a bounty hunter was able to track down a reporter's phone by using just a phone number.

According to Google, as soon as it heard about T-Mobile and Sprint's predilection toward selling location data to location aggregators, the company demanded that the two carriers stop selling data related to Project Fi customers.

'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're ending this location aggregator work the right way - avoiding the impact consumers who use these types of services for things like emergency assistance.

Despite the government shutdown, Congress is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to explain why mobile carriers are still selling customer location 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.

All four major USA carriers vowed to stop selling customer location data to third-parties last June in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

After Wyden called T-Mobile CEO John Legere out on Twitter for failing to live up to a promise he made in June, Legere responded and said he keeps his word. The bounty hunter quickly obtained the reporter's location using Zumigo's location data from his T-Mobile phone.

Some mobile carriers have promised to end this practice by March, but lawmakers are skeptical. "We have previously stated that we are terminating the agreements we have with third party data aggregators and we are almost finished with that process", the company wrote in a statement.

"The FCC once again appears to have dragged its feet in protecting consumers", Pallone said in the letter. "The FCC needs to investigate". "This entire ecosystem needs oversight".

"The FCC must take immediate action to ensure no wireless carrier is allowing the rampant disclosure of real-time location data, and take enforcement action against carriers that violated the Commission's rules and the trust of their customers", Pallone said. 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. On Friday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-NJ, asked the FCC to provide the committee's staff with an emergency briefing on the matter. 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.



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