Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile vow to end ties with location data aggregators

It was reported last month that prison call-monitoring firm Securus Technologies offered law enforcement agencies a service meant to identify peoples' location through their mobile devices without a court order. 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.

To address privacy concerns, the country's major wireless carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have vowed to block LocationSmart and another location data broker, Zumigo Inc., from gaining access to their customers' location details. That means putting an end to the carriers' data-sharing agreements with those data aggregators, which purchase real-time location data of users from the carriers and share the information with other companies for use in marketing and other purposes.

It remains unclear, though, how long it will take Verizon and AT&T to finally terminate those partnerships. For its part, Sprint already cut off LocationSmart in May and pledged to end its existing contracts with other location data brokers. T-Mobile's CEO John Legere also tweeted that his company will not sell customer location details to "shady middlemen" in response to a Twitter post by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who asked the Federal Communications Commission last month to launch a probe on the wireless carriers following Securus' potential privacy violation.

Source: The Wall Street Journal via MIT Technology Review

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