USA telecoms "selling cellphone data showing user locations in real time" American telecommunications giants are selling access to their customers' location data, leaving them exposed to being tracked by bounty hunters and others, a disturbing report by Motherboard has revealed.
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", according to Motherboard.
Wyden also wrote to the four major U.S. cellular telcos - AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint - asking them to carry out an audit of which third parties had access to user location data, and ensure that they had people's consent before sharing such personally identifiable information. "I think that is a problem", Rosenworcel said. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. On Twitter, Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner for the FCC, called for an investigation into the controversial practice to happen "stat" on January 8 on Twitter.
"We take the privacy and security of our customers' information very seriously and will not tolerate any misuse of our customers' data", A T-Mobile spokesperson told Motherboard in an emailed statement.
In a report Tuesday, Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox described the process he had used to acquire the location data of a mobile phone from a source in the bail bond industry.
"It's not enough for these tech giants and their CEOs to lay blame for misuse and abuse of information on downstream companies", he added in his tweet.
"The FCC must take immediate action to ensure no wireless carrier is allowing the rampant disclosure of real-time location data, and take enforcement action against carriers that violated the Commission's rules and the trust of their customers", Pallone said.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who previously vowed to stop selling location data, reiterated this week that the company will do so by March.
And T-Mobile US's Legere told Senator Wyden to his face that he would end the practice of selling location data through third parties.
"There are entities out there that will sell information about where you are with your cell phone in real time, it's like this: for a few hundred dollars, anyone can pay to figure out where you are within a few hundred meters".
We've noted a few times now that while Facebook gets a lot of justified heat for its privacy scandals, the stuff going on in the cellular data and app market in regards to location data makes many of Facebook's privacy issues seem like a grade-school picnic. The spokesperson said everything will be finalized in March. "This entire ecosystem needs oversight". As you might expect, the bad publicity hasn't stopped carriers from working with those companies, as evidenced by a recent article from Motherboard. "Major carriers pledged to end these practices, but it appears to have been more empty promises to consumers", Wyden said on Twitter.
Pallone said the emergency FCC briefing should be held on Monday - regardless of whether or not the federal government is still shut down. "To be transparent, we have maintained the prior arrangements for four roadside assistance companies during the winter months for public safety reasons but they have agreed to transition out of the existing arrangements by the end of the March".