Wireless providers vow to end sharing location data

Man carries cell phone.
Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Multiple major wireless providers have said they won't continue to engage in the sort of location data sharing portrayed in a Motherboard investigation earlier this week that saw reporter Joseph Cox pay a bounty hunter to track a cellphone.

Why it matters: Privacy scandals aren't limited to the major web companies.

The telco dominoes fell in the 48 hours after the story dropped:

  • "T-Mobile IS completely ending location aggregator work," T-Mobile CEO John Legere told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "We’re doing it the right way to avoid impacting consumers who use these types of services for things like emergency assistance. It will end in March, as planned and promised."
  • AT&T told CNET in a statement that in "light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have decided to eliminate all location aggregation services — even those with clear consumer benefits" but noted it had previously stopped some data sharing.
  • Verizon told the Washington Post's Brian Fung that it is phasing out data sharing agreements with companies that do roadside assistance.

Yes, but: "I’ll believe it when I see it," said Wyden, one of several Democratic officials to push for action on the issue.

  • Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has also called for the agency to investigate.

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