Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Tech | By

All 4 major United States carriers roll back data sharing with brokers

All 4 major United States carriers roll back data sharing with brokers

In the wake of questions from Wyden's staff, Verizon filed a letter saying that it was suspending its data-sharing agreement with LocationSmart and Zumigo until further notice. As part of its offering, Securus reportedly used location data it obtained from 3Cinteractive, which also received the trove of information from LocationSmart - a location aggregator with a history of buying data access from wireless carriers in the U.S.

A Securus spokesman said the company was authorized to give law enforcement the location of a phone in certain circumstances, under Securus' contract with the third party data aggregator. A web portal allowed correctional officers to enter any USA phone number and obtain real-time location data on consumers.

The Associated Press reports that the networks are responding to a congressional investigation led by Senator Ron Wyden of OR, who also sent letters asking what the telecoms are doing to protect user data from being tracked through easily-accessible web portals. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint followed suit Tuesday after The Associated Press reported the Verizon move. The carriers could all sell this location data directly - none of the companies commented on this possibility.

This change will have no affect whatsoever on how users share their location data with apps and services for an improved experience.


LocationSmart, the vendor of the recently hacked Securus, had an unsecured API on their website that allowed malicious users to track any phone in the United States or Canada. The social network has enacted measures to allay concerns over data privacy, and plans to require advertisers to tell users if data brokers provided the information that led to them being targeted with an ad.

Just ask USA carriers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, who have all now pledged to stop selling customer location data to third-party brokers. Wyden that said: "AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint seem content to continue to sell their customers' private information to these shady middle men, Americans' privacy be damned", alongside letters from representatives from those companies indicating that the sale of location data would continue. The nation's major carriers provided data to LocationSmart and brokers just like it. Sprint only said that its customers have to "generally be notified" of such data sales.

"Our top priority is to protect our customers' information, and, to that end, we will be ending our work with aggregators for these services as soon as practical in a way that preserves important, potential lifesaving services like emergency roadside assistance", AT&T told PCMag in a statement. CNN is a unit of AT&T.

Verizon said about 75 third parties have obtained its location data from the two little-known California companies it is cutting off. "But, the Securus revelations shined a powerful light on a major privacy gap that must still be addressed", Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement to CNNMoney.

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