Friday January 11, 2019

Multiple Carriers Pledge to Stop Selling Geolocation Data

Following their investigation into the smartphone geolocation black market, Motherboard reports that AT&T will stop selling location data to third parties. More specifically, AT&T said they will "eliminate all location aggregation services - even those with clear consumer benefits." Meanwhile, another report from Motherboard suggests that Google Fi customers are vulnerable to the same kind of exploits, and that Google is not happy about it. They have allegedly "required [their] network partners to shut it down as soon as possible." Like AT&T, T-Mobile was already in the process of pulling themselves away from location aggregators, but they seem to be accelerating their efforts now. Sprint's responses have been more vague, while Verizon told the Washington Post that they're shutting down location aggregator contracts too. But only time will tell if the network operators follow up on these promises

News Image

This isn't the first time telcos have said they will take action against location aggregators. Last year Senator Ron Wyden and The New York Times reported that an aggregator called LocationSmart was providing data access that ultimately allowed low level law enforcement to track down phones without a warrant. In response, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint cut access to Securus, the company that was acting as a middleman between LocationSmart and the end users. Since then, the telcos have continued to provide location data access for other purposes, such as to roadside assistance firms for locating stranded customers for fraud prevention. For the second time in six months, carriers are pledging to stop sharing American's location with middlemen without their knowledge," Wyden told Motherboard Thursday. "I'll believe it when I see it. Carriers are always responsible for who ends up with their customers data-it's not enough to lay the blame for misuse on downstream companies."