Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
IT | By Lester Massey

Beware! Phone Companies May Be Selling Your Location Data

Beware! Phone Companies May Be Selling Your Location Data

In view of this, several federal lawmakers are demanding that Federal Communications Commission investigate these companies after getting a lead through Motherboard story which came out yesterday that major mobile carriers were still secretly selling customer location data to third parties.

In addition to telecoms selling cell phone location data to company, the researcher said that there is a trickle down effect with the information, which could land in the wrong hands.

The phone companies then sell this information to aggregators like Zumigo and Microbilt.These turn around and sell the data to piecemeal to other businesses and individuals.

Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox wrote, "I gave a bounty hunter a phone number".

Last year, a large number of US carriers were under fire for selling live location data to third-party companies, including LocationSmart and Securus.

Motherboard also reached out to Zumigo, the company who sold T-Mobile user data to Microbilt in the first place. "It will end in March", Legere added. 'We're doing it the right way to avoid impacting consumers who use these types of services for things like emergency assistance. It will end in March, as planned and promised'. Motherboard was able to get a price list from Microbilt showing that real-time tracking of a phone can be as little as $12.95.

While they didn't test the other companies, Microbilt's product documentation suggested it would work on AT&T and Verizon as well as T-Mobile. "T-Mobile has also blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo on behalf of MicroBilt as an additional precaution". 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.


This was accomplished with a "tracking tool [that] relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint", Motherboard wrote.

Addressing the issue head on, a Sprint spokesperson told The Verge that they company will no longer "knowingly share personally identifiable geo-location information" but for requests from legal authorities. 'We are investigating this matter and it would be inappropriate to comment further until that process is complete'.

"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. "Over the past few months, as we committed to do, we have been shutting down everything else".

AT&T told Ars that it has "shut down access for MicroBilt as we investigate these allegations".

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.

Senator Wyden, who has crusaded for tighter data privacy rules, called on Congress to pass his proposed legislation to crack down on the abuse of consumer data.

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