Verizon to end some sale of phone-location data

Verizon to end some sale of phone-location data

USA carriers are still going to collect your location info, but the fact that they're no longer selling it to other businesses is a big step forward.

Verizon Communications has stopped selling data to a company that was pinpointing the location of customers' phones, responding to an outcry over actions by a prison contractor.

Verizon's letter also said that in addition to obtaining its own customers' consent before collecting the data, the company also looks at the third-party customers of its data vendors to be sure they have not violated consumer privacy or protection rules.

On Tuesday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said on Twitter that it too had ended partnerships with data aggregators. AT&T has come forward and said the same thing, adding that it will do so "as soon as practical" with no specific date of termination on the books at the time of publication.

Verizon was the first major carrier to declare it would end sales of such data to brokers that then provide it to others.

In addition, the Senator sent out a pair of tweets that announced the decisions made by Verizon and AT&T to stop selling the location data, and lambasted T-Mobile and Sprint for their decision "to keep selling customers' private information, Americans' privacy be damned".

On its website, LocationSmart claims it is the No. 1 "location-as-a-service" provider with data from every top tier USA wireless carrier and more than 200 enterprise customers.

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Both carriers will essentially cut out the intermediary for disseminating location data.

Moy said Verizon may have been motivated by a $1.4 million FCC fine for an earlier episode in which the company quietly tracked its wireless customers' online travels with a "supercookie" for at least 22 months beginning in December 2012.

"Chairman Pai's total abandonment of his responsibility to protect Americans' security shows that he can't be trusted to oversee an investigation into the shady companies that he used to represent", Wyden said. "We stand-by that commitment to our customers". On Tuesday, AT&T and Sprint told PCMag that they too were winding down the partnerships with third-party data aggregator companies.

Under the program, known internally as Location Data Integration, Verizon sold rough location data on its customers - information the customers had previously agreed to share - to LocationSmart, which in turn provided the information to Securus.

T-Mobile and Sprint did not respond to a request for comment.

Verizon dug into the issue and reported back to Wyden this month that "despite the protections that Verizon built into its location aggregation arrangements, it appears that Securus and/or its affiliate 3C Interactive impermissibly permitted law enforcement agencies to request location information through LocationSmart for investigative purposes".

On its website, LocationSmart claims it is the No. 1 "location-as-a-service" provider with data from every top tier USA wireless carrier and more than 200 enterprise customers. "The company does not warehouse or track a mobile user's historic identity and location information", said the company.

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