AT&T to stop sharing customers' location data on to third parties

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

Seven months later, Motherboard found that public outrage was enough to get carriers to examine who they passed data off too, but not enough for them to stop the practice; in a test, a bounty hunter was able to track down a participating reporter's location using data from Zumigo, another major Location-as-a-Service company, that was acquired by Microbilt, a credit reporting company.

AT&T had already suspended its data-sharing agreements with a number of so-called "location aggregators" previous year in light of a congressional probe finding that some of Verizon's location data was being misused by prison officials to spy on innocent Americans. The bounty hunter received the triangulated cellphone tower data through his bail-bond company, which was able to buy it from a third-party vendor for as little as $12.95 per number. However, the details were identical: it was an approved third party that purchased subscribers' location records from a carrier, and through a chain of organizations, sold that private location data to pretty much anyone willing to pay it: from vehicle salespeople, stalkers, and property managers to criminals, bounty hunters, and private investigators, potentially.

"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. He added that T-Mobile is trying to do it "the right way" to avoid affecting consumers who use these services for things like emergency assistance.

Motherboard's story earlier this week highlighted how customer location data can end up in the wrong hands.

At this time, it appears AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are all selling location information about their customers to aggregators.

After repeat questions on what that actually meant, a few days later T-Mobile US clarified that it was "winding down our location aggregation agreements".

Verizon says that it ended its agreement with Zumigo before the original report came out this week.

As Motherboard reported, there are legitimate uses for the sharing of location data, including detecting financial fraud or locating motorists who need roadside assistance.

Renault, Nissan boards get investigation updates before expected new Ghosn indictment
Ghosn's lawyer Otsuru on Tuesday said Nissan had agreed to the arrangement on condition that any losses or gains would be Ghosn's. The case is also being played out in local media, with another string of allegations leaking out in the Japanese press on Friday.

Google Fi, which provides service over the T-Mobile and Sprint networks, said it has "never sold Fi subscribers' location information", according to Motherboard.

Earlier this week, after United States wireless carriers were put on blast for selling their users' location data without consent, the industry promptly promised to bring the practice to an end.

"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", a T-Mobile spokesperson told Ars this week.

"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.

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

All the location tracking should occur with customer consent.

Wyden has called on the FCC to investigate the relationship between wireless carriers and data brokers. "The FCC needs to investigate". On Friday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., commended Pallone for "taking this critical first step towards creating real transparency and oversight of wireless carriers that misuse Americans' data".

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai hasn't offered any comment.

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