After broken promise, AT&T says it'll stop selling phone location data

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

U.S. cell carriers are probably still selling your real-time phone location data

AT&T said Thursday, two days after the report was published, that it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to brokers beginning in March.

"In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have made a decision to eliminate all location aggregation services-even those with clear consumer benefits", AT&T said in a statement, according to the Daily Inquirer.

Cox explained that this was possible because T-Mobile was partnered with data aggregate company Zumingo, which then sold location data to Microbilt, then to a bail bond company, then to the source who found the phone's location.

A year ago we stopped most location aggregation services while maintaining some that protect our customers, such as roadside assistance and fraud prevention. Legere tweeted this week: "T-Mobile is completely ending location aggregator work". We're doing it the right way to avoid impacting consumers who use these types of services for things like emergency assistance.

Amid increasing pressure from federal lawmakers, three of the major U.S. 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.

T-Mobile offered a similar promise, as we noted in an update to our story on Tuesday.

Senators and policy makers are now calling for increased legislation on the carriers and have called the practice a breach of national security.

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

All of this comes after Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T promised to end its contracts with aggregation companies. "I think there should be a federal law that respects California and other state laws but adds to them and creates financial penalties for when companies violate your trust and sell your information against your will". "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". For instance, AT&T vowed to "protect customer data" and "shut down" Securus's access to its real-time store of customer location data.

Google Fi, which provides service over the T-Mobile and Sprint networks, said it has "never sold Fi subscribers' location information", according to Motherboard. As you might expect, the bad publicity hasn't stopped carriers from working with those companies, as evidenced by a recent article from Motherboard.

Until carriers cut ties with data aggregation companies like Zumigo, or until the United States introduces legislation that prevents the selling of this data, this harmful practice will likely continue as usual.

"The FCC needs to investigate", Rosenworcel said Wednesday on MSNBC.

Harris called on the Federal Communications Commission to immediately open an investigation.

Vice's Motherboard, which reports on technology and the internet, said it was able to pay a bounty hunter $300 to get a cellphone's real-time location.

LocationSmart, a company that provided geolocation data on almost any phone in the United States was investigated a year ago. "That's not right. This entire ecosystem needs oversight". "Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers", Wyden said on Twitter. The FCC is closed because of the government shutdown. "It's time for the FCC to get its act together".

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