AT&T, T-Mobile to stop selling location of customers to third parties


The announcement follows sharp demands by federal lawmakers for an investigation into the alleged misuse of data, which came to light when Motherboard revealed a complex chain of unauthorized information sharing that ended with a bounty hunter successfully tracking down a reporter's device.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile said that it has been assured by Zumigo that "they have already shut down all transmission of T-Mobile data". The firm said it was looking into the situation and had stopped transmitting data to an aggregator while it investigated. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. US Senator Kamala Harris and Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel have also called on US regulators to investigate the data sharing. Thanks to the sale of this data, the location of nearly any smartphone can be found using just the user's phone number. The company also stated that it was working to fulfil its promise made last summer to sever ties with third-party data aggregators.

'We took immediate action to ensure Microbilt no longer had access to Sprint location data, ' the spokesperson added, 'and have notified Zumigo that we are immediately terminating our contract.' T-Mobile had a similar response: A T-Mobile spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that the company has 'blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo on behalf of Microbilt, ' and said it was in the process of ending providing access to third-party data aggregators more broadly.

According to Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, they are stepping up there efforts to crack down on the misuse of customer location data after an investigation this week disclosed that how easy it was for the third parties to track the locations of customers.

"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". That's because it isn't the first time USA carriers have pledged to safeguard their customers' location data.

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who previously vowed to stop selling location data, reiterated this week that the company will do so by March.

"This is what happens when there are no financial penalties that are meaningful to the companies when they breach your data and destroy your privacy", said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. "That's not right. This entire ecosystem needs oversight".

As for the other USA carriers, Sprint told that it has ended its contract with Zumigo and blocked Microbilt from accessing Sprint location data. 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.

Verizon was not among the carriers flagged in Motherboard's report. The FCC is closed because of the government shutdown. "Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers", Wyden wrote in a tweet. "To be transparent, 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 don't tolerate violations of privacy and data security protections for our customer data", the company said in a statement.