Verizon Plans to Stop Selling Location Data to Brokers

Verizon Plans to Stop Selling Location Data to Brokers

The Associated Press said the company wrote a letter to Sen.

In response, Verizon is cracking down on partners that enabled the abuse by ending its data-sharing agreements with two companies, LocationSmart and Zumigo, which specialize in processing location data from U.S. wireless carriers and letting corporate customers access it.

Last month, Wyden revealed abuses in the lucrative but loosely regulated field involving Securus Technologies, whose contract Verizon says was approved only for the location tracking of outside mobile phones called by prison inmates.

According to the letter, Securus was among 75 corporate customers with access to Verizon's customer data from either LocationSmart or Zumigo. "I've personally evaluated this issue & have pledged that @tmobile will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen".

The case also spurred FCC rules that would have required carriers to obtain consent for selling their customers' wireless location data.

The move comes after prison IT firm Securus Technologies was found to be using location data to let police look up cell phone locations without a warrant.

It's also important to note that Verizon said it will terminate its arrangements with data brokers "as soon as possible".

But once that data is readily available and people are willing to pay...

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Sprint, in a statement to The Verge, confirmed that it would be ending the sale of subscriber location data as well.

"We believe that ending the ability of law enforcement to use these critical tools will hurt public safety and put Americans at risk", the spokesman said.

The largest USA wireless carrier announced the move in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. Last month, Sen. Ron Wyden of OR sent letters to all four major U.S. wireless carriers, demanding answers about why this sensitive data was in the hands of a third party. Securus users - typically law-enforcement and correctional facilities - were able to sidestep the usual court-authorized requirements on tracking customer locations. It was, after all, the abuse of this data that sparked the letters in the first place. Rather, it deals with the practice of providing data to third parties with whom users have no direct contact.

"Verizon deserves credit for taking quick action to protect its customers' privacy and security", Wyden said.

"Verizon did the responsible thing and promptly announced it was cutting these companies off", said Wyden in a statement Tuesday, following an investigation by his office.

Adding to the fun, following pressure from Wyden, the FCC chose to open an investigation into the unauthorized use of location data.

The FCC is investigating the LocationSmart incident, but Wyden has called on the agency to expand the probe and for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to recuse himself because of his work for Securus as a private sector attorney in 2012.

Wyden didn't mince words over the controversial FCC chief.

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