House Republicans question telecoms on location tracking

January 16, 2019 by Tali Arbel
House Republicans question telecoms on location tracking
In this Feb. 15, 2017, file photo a hotel guest is dwarfed by the glass facade of the JW Marriott hotel as he looks at his phone on an escalator at the hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Several House Republicans are asking T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint how they share their users' cellphone location data, citing a recent report that telecoms are selling that information to shadowy companies without customer knowledge. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Several House Republicans asked T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint how they share their users' cellphone location data, citing a recent report that telecoms are selling that information to shadowy companies without customer knowledge.

The lawmakers said Wednesday that they are troubled because it is not the first report of these types of data-sharing practices. They also sent questions to data brokers Zumigo and Microbilt, which were mentioned in last week's Motherboard report.

Democrats have also expressed concern, including calling for investigations and legislation. But Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., the chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, said this week that because of the government shutdown, the Federal Communications Commission chairman would not brief House staff on what the agency plans to do about the issue.

An FCC spokesman said the agency will continue to investigate wireless carriers' handling of location information when its operations are back to normal.

AT&T and T-Mobile say they will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to brokers by March. Last year, the major carriers had already pledged to stop providing location information to data brokers. But AT&T and T-Mobile said they made an exception for useful services that, for instance, helped customers with roadside assistance or fraud protection. The companies say they will also end those location-sharing practices in March.

Explore further: AT&T to end all location-data sales to data brokers

Related Stories

AT&T to end all location-data sales to data brokers

January 11, 2019

AT&T says it will stop selling all location data from mobile phones to brokers following a report that companies are still selling that information to shadowy companies without customer knowledge.

Verizon to end location data sales to brokers

June 19, 2018

Verizon is pledging to stop selling information on phone owners' locations to data brokers, stepping back from a business practice that has drawn criticism for endangering privacy, The Associated Press has learned.

Wireless carriers get consent to use location data

April 28, 2011

(AP) -- The nation's four largest wireless carriers say they obtain customer permission before using a subscriber's physical location to provide driving directions, family-locator applications and other location-based services, ...

The good and bad of location tracking

June 29, 2018

Two recent news stories about cellphone location services recently caught my eye. One was a positive development and the other quite negative, until it was at least partially fixed.

Recommended for you

Light-based production of drug-discovery molecules

February 18, 2019

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells are widely studied for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. They use photocathodes and photoanodes to "split" water into hydrogen and oxygen respectively. PEC cells can work ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.