Update (06/20): Sprint sent over a statement to The Verge stating it will no longer sell its cell phone location information to data brokers. In addition, T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted on his Twitter feed that his company will not sell customer location data to “shady middlemen.”
Original article (06/19): You might not have known, but wireless carriers have been selling information about where your phone is located with data brokers. Today, two of those carriers, AT&T and Verizon, have announced they will end that practice, but only after it was found that one of those companies was offering that info to others that didn’t have the legal rights to get it.
Associated Press reports that U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon found in May that both AT&T and Verizon were selling location data from phones to two companies, LocationSmart and Zumigo. However, those two data brokers were discovered to have sold that data to as many as 75 other companies, with almost no control over how they used that data. One of those businesses, Securus Technologies, allowed access for phone location data to law enforcement agencies without checking if they had warrants.
Verizon sent a letter to Senator Wyden on June 15, informing them that they will stop selling location data to LocationSmart and Zumigo, and AT&T has confirmed that it will do the same. The Verge reports that T-Mobile has also sent out a statement, saying it has suspended its relationship with LocationSmart and is conducting an “internal review,” which will include looking at their deal with Zumigo. Sprint has yet to comment as of this writing. Carriers may still sell location data from its customers in the future, but it’s currently unknown how they will do so without these data brokers.