Major US providers stop selling location data to data traders

Jun

20

2018

Major US providers such as Verizon, AT & T, Sprint and T-Mobile have indicated that they no longer sell location data from their customers to data traders, or brokers , who then resell them. However, they do not stop completely with the sale.

Associated Press writes that Verizon indicated in a letter to the American senator John Wyden that he stopped practicing, after which the other providers followed. Verizon sold location data to two California companies: LocationSmart and Zumigo. It estimates that these companies then resold the data to about 75 other organizations. This allowed them to determine the location of the provider’s customers, without having given their permission, according to AP. The aforementioned providers together would have around three hundred million customers.

However, they do not completely stop selling data. For example, Verizon indicates that it does not want to cause any adverse effects on ‘useful services’, such as fraud prevention services and roadside assistance. The providers did not respond to questions from AP whether they are planning to sell the location data directly themselves. They also claim that customers must give permission before their location can be requested. A representative of an American privacy think tank told AP that Verizon might have decided to stop the practice because it had previously been fined 1.3 million dollars for tracking users with a so-called super cookie .

The discussion about the availability of location data from American users started when a researcher established that it was possible to establish the relatively exact location of people within a few seconds via an api from LocationSmart without having given their permission. Senator Wyden then decided to investigate the case and to write the providers.

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