AT&T vows to stop selling location data

13 January, 2019, 17:28 | Author: Regina Silva
  • AT&T says it’ll stop selling location data amid calls for federal investigation

Faced with a new privacy debacle, AT&T says it will stop selling data about wireless users' locations.

"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", an AT&T spokesman told PCMag. One was a report posted yesterday by Motherboard that said AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile were still selling their customers' real-time location data.

"Last year we stopped most location aggregation services while maintaining some that protect our customers, such as roadside assistance and fraud prevention", AT&T said in a statement to CNET. 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. That company provided access from major phone carriers to a location-tracking service called Microbilt, which reportedly offered the service to several industries. "It will end in March, as planned and promised".

"I don't expect this FCC, which has done just about everything that AT&T and Verizon has asked for, will engage in a serious enforcement action here", she said.

All the location tracking should occur with customer consent.

"At least one company, called Microbilt, is selling phone geolocation services with little oversight to a spread of different private industries, ranging from vehicle salesmen and property managers to bail bondsmen and bounty hunters, according to sources familiar with the company's products and company documents obtained by Motherboard", Cox wrote.

CTIA guidelines and best practices agreed to by marketing associations and their members appear to be meaningless when nefarious practices such as those reported by Motherboard continue unencumbered.

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New reporting by Motherboard shows that while companies may have severed ties with LocationSmart, a lot of them overlooked the other big player in the location-tracking business, Zumigo.

T-Mobile said in a statement to The Verge that it has "blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo". First, we should explain that an MVNO is a mobile virtual network operator.

After the report was released, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said on Twitter, "The @fcc needs to investigate".

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

"There are entities out there that will sell information about where you are with your cell phone in real time, it's like this: for a few hundred dollars, anyone can pay to figure out where you are within a few hundred meters". "This entire ecosystem needs oversight". 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. Congress should act on passing comprehensive legislation and empowering specialized agencies like the FCC.

More specifically, they said they'd stop selling data to outside brokers, who aggregate data to be resold.

The FCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment; the agency's operations are limited because of the ongoing government shutdown. As a result of the ongoing partial shutdown of the USA federal government, the FTC was unable to provide a statement.

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