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

A person's hand holding a smartphone that is displaying a map

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T-Mobile made a similar announcement yesterday, saying that it had already blocked location data requests from aggregator Zumigo (which was specifically mentioned in Motherboard's report) and that it was nearly done severing ties with other third-party data aggregators.

Carriers were pressured into changing their policies a year ago after it was revealed that prison phone company Securus offers a service enabling law enforcement officers to locate most American cell phones within seconds.

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 credit-reporting 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", the article continued.

If AT&T's decision sounds familiar, it's because AT&T, Verizon and other companies said last June they were cutting off location-data sharing contracts.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has been pushing mobile providers to end location-data sales. "It will end in March", Legere added.

Particularly damning is the fact that T-Mobile CEO John Legere personally vowed in full view of the public that his company would "not sell customer location data to shady middlemen". 'We're doing it the right way to avoid impacting consumers who use these types of services for things like emergency assistance. According to Motherboard, "Microbilt shared that data with a customer using its mobile phone tracking product". While T-Mobile does not have a direct relationship with MicroBilt, our vendor Zumigo was working with them and has confirmed with us that they have already shut down all transmission of T-Mobile data.

AT&T says it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to brokers following a report that companies are still selling that information to shadowy companies without customer knowledge. 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, ' the company's statement continued.

"Illegal access to data is an unfortunate occurrence across virtually every industry that deals in consumer or employee data, and it is impossible to detect a fraudster, or rogue customer, who requests location data of his or her own mobile devices when the required consent is provided".

A Sprint spokeswoman told on Tuesday that "protecting our customers" privacy and security is a top priority' for the company. 'We are investigating this matter and it would be inappropriate to comment further until that process is complete'. But AT&T made an exception for useful services that, for instance, help customers with roadside assistance or fraud protection. "Over the past few months, as we committed to do, we have been shutting down everything else". "Upon investigating the alleged abuse and learning of the violation of our contract, we terminated the customer's access to our products and they will not be eligible for reinstatement based on this violation".

After Motherboard published its report, Wyden along with Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) spoke out about the revelations and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for an investigation. Wyden said. "The time for taking these companies at their word is long past - Congress needs to pass strong legislation to protect Americans' privacy and finally hold corporations accountable when they put your safety at risk by letting stalkers and criminals track your phone on the dark web".

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