Verizon Plans to Stop Selling Location Data to Brokers
Verizon Plans to Stop Selling Location Data to Brokers
Verizon, AT&T are cutting off location-data sharing contracts
20 June, 2018, 06:40
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". Sprint previously suspended all data sharing with LocationSmart on May 25, 2018.
Verizon is pledging to stop selling data through intermediaries that pinpoints the location of mobile phones to outside companies, the Associated Press has learned. He said Zumigo does not let its customers resell the location data - and hopes to renegotiate with the carriers.
Verizon announced it was cutting off its contracts with location aggregators.
The three other main U.S. mobile operators that Wyden also contacted - AT&T, Spring and T-Mobile - also failed to name the companies that it sells such data to. Its letter noted that the termination "must be completed in careful steps so as not to disrupt beneficial services being provided using customer location data, such as the fraud prevention and call routing services". All the major cell networks have long sold location data to third parties, who were supposed to vet how it was being used.
Days later, a Carnegie Mellon University security researcher discovered a security flaw in LocationSmart's website that could have allowed any reasonably sophisticated hacker to secretly track nearly any phone in the USA or Canada.
"I don't believe that there is anything consumers can do to opt-out of having their location data shared with third-parties like LocationSmart", said Stephanie Lacambra, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an email.
"Verizon deserves credit for taking quick action to protect its customers' privacy and security", Wyden said in a news release. Verizon said the same.
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A spokesman for T-Mobile didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. T-Mobile and Sprint haven't announced any policy changes at this time.
Gigi Sohn, a former top advisor at the Federal Communications Commission in the Obama administration, said Verizon has lately proven itself a "shining example" on privacy.
Customers, unable to opt out of the phone giants' privacy policies, may be locked in to sharing their location data with aggregators.
Verizon customers' smartphones will soon quit being snitches.
The company subsequently signed a consent order with the FCC promising to restrict that tracking to customers who affirmatively agreed to it.
The case also spurred FCC rules that would have required carriers to obtain consent for selling their customers' wireless location data. But the GOP-led Congress quashed those rules previous year.
The CEO of Zumigo, Chirag Bakshi, said his 7-year-old company provides location data to less than a half dozen big banks and financial institutions for fraud prevention.
Robert Xiao said that the company had "no security oversight" before the site served location data.
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