AT&T to end all location-data sales to data brokers


But those assurances are unlikely to dissuade privacy hawks in Congress who've always been critical of the way companies such as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint appear to exert few controls over how private phone data is handled once its sold off in bulk to "middlemen" companies, which serve among others, marketing firms, emergency services, and, apparently, bounty hunters.

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

AT&T and T-Mobile are suspending their sales of customer data to third-parties, following a Motherboard investigation that revealed how such sales trickle down to potentially risky consequences. 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.

When reached for comment, T-Mobile directed us to Legere's Twitter feed, where he wrote that the company has "blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo on behalf of Microbilt" and that the company is almost finished with the process of "terminating the agreements" it has with third-dfparty data aggregators.

Secondly, on Wednesday several U.S. Senators called on the FCC to investigate this issue. The company also stated that it was working to fulfil its promise made last summer to sever ties with third-party data aggregators.

Pallone said the emergency FCC briefing should be held on Monday - regardless of whether or not the federal government is still shut down. "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".

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Since the publication of the Motherboard report, mobile carriers have come out to promise more privacy for subscribers and more transparency.

Right now, senators are calling for regulation to ensure that companies are upfront with customers about how their data will be used and sold. Verizon sent a letter [PDF] saying it had "conducted a comprehensive review" of its "location aggregator program" and as a result would kill the agreements it had with the two companies in the program, LocationSmart and Zumigo.

'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. First, we should explain that an MVNO is a mobile virtual network operator.

The commission's senior Democrat, Jessica Rosenworcel, concurs. "Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers", Wyden wrote in a tweet. "It's time for the FCC to get its act together". Much like the Securus scandal, the problem once again is the countless location data brokers and third party vendors which are being sold this data, then doing pretty much whatever they'd like with it.

The FCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment; the agency's operations are limited because of the ongoing government shutdown.

Pallone is asking for a meeting on January 14, even if the government shutdown isn't over by then.