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Lawmakers Call On FCC To Investigate Sale Of Cell Phone Location Data

Lawmakers Call On FCC To Investigate Sale Of Cell Phone Location Data

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.

An AT&T spokesperson told The Washington Post that in light of the report, they are immediately eliminating all dealings with location aggregation services - even ones with clear consumer benefits.

An inquiry has gone up from senators in the U.S. calling for the investigation of phone companies selling location data.

"We only permit sharing of location when a customer gives permission for cases like fraud prevention or emergency roadside assistance, or when required by law". "T-Mobile is completely ending location aggregator work". 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.

Amid increasing pressure from federal lawmakers, three of the major United States wireless carriers announced plans to end the sale of location data sharing after a report by Motherboard showed just how easy it was for a bounty hunter to track a reporter's phone.

After Wyden called T-Mobile CEO John Legere out on Twitter for failing to live up to a promise he made in June, Legere responded and said he keeps his word.

This led to several lawmakers calling for an investigation into the practice of data sharing.

Those companies may not be living up to their promises, though.




"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. The firm received the data from a location "aggregator" called Zumigo, which had in turn purchased it directly from T-Mobile.

Until carriers cut ties with data aggregation companies like Zumigo, or until the United States introduces legislation that prevents the selling of this data, this harmful practice will likely continue as usual.

T-Mobile, the carrier most directly cited in Motherboard's report, said it takes the privacy and security of its customers' information seriously and will not tolerate misuse of customer data.

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

All the location tracking should occur with customer consent.

'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.

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

"It shouldn't be that you pay a few hundred dollars to a bounty hunter and then they can tell you in real time where a phone is within a few hundred meters", Rosenworcel then wrote on Wednesday. "This entire ecosystem needs oversight". Congress should act on passing comprehensive legislation and empowering specialized agencies like the FCC. Verizon wasn't flagged as part of the investigation, and says it stopped selling data a long time ago. As a result of the ongoing partial shutdown of the US federal government, the FTC was unable to provide a statement.


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