AT&T will reportedly stop selling the location data of its customers to third parties, following reports this week which indicated the data was ending up “in the possession of unauthorized individuals.”
“In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have decided to eliminate all location aggregation services – even those with clear consumer benefits,” declared AT&T in a statement. “We are immediately eliminating the remaining services and will be done in March.”
This week, it was reported that AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile had been selling its customers’ location data to third parties, and that this data was ultimately ending up “in the possession of unauthorized individuals.”
“T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers’ location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country,” reported Vice News’ Motherboard, Tuesday, after successfully paying a bounty hunter $300 for him to track a phone.
“Motherboard’s investigation shows just how exposed mobile networks and the data they generate are, leaving them open to surveillance by ordinary citizens, stalkers, and criminals, and comes as media and policy makers are paying more attention than ever to how location and other sensitive data is collected and sold,” Motherboard proclaimed. “The investigation also shows that a wide variety of companies can access cell phone location data, and that the information trickles down from cell phone providers to a wide array of smaller players, who don’t necessarily have the correct safeguards in place to protect that data.”