Verizon and AT&T will stop selling real-time location data of its users


T-Mobile’s conducting an "internal review" into the matter.

Last May, U.S. carriers came under fire after it was discovered that they were tracking real-time location info of their subscribers and then selling that information to third parties. Following a heap of backlash over security and privacy concerns, both Verizon and AT&T have confirmed they’re ending this practice.

First reported by The Associated Press, Verizon sent a letter to Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (who’s been particularly critical of this topic) on June 15 announcing that it would stop selling this data to brokers who then sell it to other companies.

Shortly after Verizon made this announcement, AT&T followed suit and confirmed it was doing the same thing.

As for T-Mobile and Sprint, things are still up in the air. Although T-Mobile hasn’t permanently stopped selling real-time user location, it did say in a statement to The Verge that:

While we continue to review the facts and determine next steps, as of May 25th we have suspended all services with LocationSmart. Our ongoing internal review also includes our relationship with Zumigo and, if warranted, we will take additional action.

Sprint hasn’t made any official statement on the matter, but if/when that changes, we’ll update this article accordingly.

LocationSmart, one of the companies Verizon, AT&T, and other carriers sell location info to, can use this information to pinpoint the real-time location of someone in just under 15 seconds. The data is obtained using cell towers, and while it’s slower and less accurate than GPS, allows the tracking to happen seamlessly in the background without alerting the person in question.

This is a huge move from Verizon and AT&T, and I expect we’ll hear from T-Mobile and Sprint following in their footsteps shortly. U.S. 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.

What do you think of this news?

All major U.S. carriers give your real-time location info to third parties

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June 19, 2018 at 11:13AM