AT&T will stop selling location data amid calls for federal investigation

AT&T will stop selling location data amid calls for federal investigation

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.

"Sadly, most of us assume not only that what we deliberately put on the Internet will fall into unauthorized hands but that data generated by our devices, services and even our human networks will be utilized in various ways we haven't authorized".

The sensitive data was available because AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint sell the information to third-party "location aggregator", PCMag reported.

Previous year we stopped most location aggregation services while maintaining some that protect our customers, such as roadside assistance and fraud prevention. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcements reflect a major victory for privacy advocates who have slammed corporate America over its handling of consumers' personal information, often to their personal and economic expense. Now the company says it will also end those sales in March. "The time for taking these companies at their word is long past".

He said Thursday that Congress needs to pass legislation to ensure they come to a halt.

Two things gave AT&T the incentive to once again tell consumers that it would not sell real-time location data to third party outfits. On Twitter, Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner for the FCC, called for an investigation into the controversial practice to happen "stat" on January 8 on Twitter. "If true, this practice represents a legitimate threat to our personal and national security". "Stat", Federal Communications Commission member Jessica Rosenworcel wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

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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.

"The FCC needs to investigate", Rosenworcel said Wednesday on MSNBC.

It is true that your phone can reveal everywhere you go even though you may not know about it. Cell towers and Global Positioning System data provide nearly accurate information about where you may be from time to time. "That's not right. This entire ecosystem needs oversight". The bottom line is that the Ajit Pai FCC could easily address this problem using the authority it has now, they've just chosen not to because it might just hurt telecom revenues.

The sharing of the phone location data at the center of the report began at T-Mobile, which shared it with a "location aggregator", who shared it with a phone location service, which shared it with a bounty hunter, who shared it with a source, who ultimately sent the phone's location to Motherboard, according to the report. The partnerships can power services such as bank fraud prevention and emergency roadside assistance in addition to online ads and marketing deals, which depend on knowing your whereabouts.

A researcher reportedly paid $300 to a bounty hunter who was then able to geolocate a phone down to a location in a specific neighborhood only blocks away from the actual location of the targeted phone.

Democrats have called for an investigation of the carriers' data-sharing practices. He sees the new report as another urgent motivation for government action, including an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., about Vice's report. "We don't tolerate violations of privacy and data security protections for our customer data", the company said in a statement.

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