AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint seek to make amends over location breach

Cornelia Mascio
Gennaio 12, 2019

In view of this, several federal lawmakers are demanding that Federal Communications Commission investigate these companies after getting a lead through Motherboard story which came out yesterday that major mobile carriers were still secretly selling customer location data to third parties.

Last year, AT&T and other carriers pledged to stop providing location information to data brokers.

Mobile carriers collect your phone location data and often use it for legitimate services, like roadside assistance and finding lost devices.

The move follows a Tuesday report on Vice's Motherboard site that showed how bounty hunters can track phone locations using carrier data.

In a tweet, Wyden called T-Mobile and Legere to task for failing to live up to Legere's pledge not "to sell customer location data to shady middlemen".

Wyden, who urged Senate colleagues on Tuesday to take up the bill, reiterated in a statement to Motherboard: "It's time for Congress to step in and pass strong privacy legislation, like my bill, to safeguard our data and hold companies accountable when they fail". It also said that it will not "knowingly share personally identifiable geo-location information" except when it comes to legal requests. T-Mobile CEO John Legere wrote on Twitter that "T-Mobile IS completely ending location aggregator work". In June, they vowed to scale back their location sharing partnerships after a prison technology company was found abusing the data for warrantless cell phone location lookups.

According to Cox, the source claimed to have received the data from a firm called Microbit.

"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.

New reporting by Motherboard shows that while companies may have severed ties with LocationSmart, majority overlooked the other big player in the location-tracking business, Zumigo. Verizon, which appears to have been the only network carrier to have mostly pulled the plug on location data sales, said it is still shutting down what's left of its whereabouts-reselling operation: four location-sharing deals with roadside assistance companies, which now face the chop.

US Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote, "This information could be obtained by anyone: a stalker, an ex, or a child predator".

"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", a T-Mobile spokesperson told Ars this week. "We have worked hard to implement the commitments we made last summer about location aggregation arrangements. It will end in March, as planned and promised".

No word from T-Mobile or the other major carriers about why it's taking about nine months to end the practice.

After repeat questions on what that actually meant, a few days later T-Mobile US clarified that it was "winding down our location aggregation agreements".

"This is not the Russian government or the North Korean government hacking into a system that hasn't been protected". These companies then sold that data to other companies, and so on and so forth.

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