Verizon and AT&T will no longer sell customer location data to third party data brokers
In a letter sent to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the nation's largest carrier, Verizon Wireless, said that it will stop selling its customers' location data to third party data brokers. Following reports of Verizon's decision, the second largest wireless operator, AT&T, agreed to follow suit. The data reveals the location of subscribers using a wireless device, and without their permission, the information is sold to data brokers who sell access to the data.
The system allows any smartphone to be tracked down in seconds although the user has to upload a warrant or affidavit and certify that the tracking has been authorized. However, this documentation is not closely examined to determine whether it is bonafide.Wyden started questioning this practice after a story surfaced about a former sheriff from Mississippi County, Mo. named Cory Hutcheson. The latter allegedly used a service from Securus Technologies to track the smartphones belonging to a Judge and members of the State Highway Patrol between 2014-2017.
Senator Wyden wrote a letter to each of the four major U.S. carriers, asking them questions related to their practice of selling customers' location data. Verizon's six-page response can be found here.
In addition, the Senator sent out a pair of tweets that announced the decisions made by Verizon and AT&T to stop selling the location data, and lambasted T-Mobile and Sprint for their decision "to keep selling customers’ private information, Americans’ privacy be damned."