FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 1, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

    The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


    Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

    After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

    The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:
    Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.

    Article Link: FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices
  2. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    About time, but I doubt anything will come out of the questioning seeing the FCC is headed by Verizon.
  3. kevinp8192 macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    T-Mobile: What? We didn't share any data?
    AT&T: Well, we may have sold GPS data to select, trusted partners, but we told them not to share it! Promise!
    Verizon: We are shocked, SHOCKED, that any data we collect could be sold on the open market!
    Sprint: We're just glad you still consider to include us.

    FCC: Thanks! Good enough for us! See ya at the next...uh...dinner.
  4. Onexy macrumors regular


    Sep 14, 2012
    Questioning... the US is so dumb not to protect whistleblowers. This might be the only way to find out what’s really happening.
  5. gertruded macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    Northwestern Illinois
    The face of corruption and what is meant by the corporate state.
  6. 370zulu macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2014
    In a reasonable world, very public and very expensive penalties are in order for each one them found to be guilty.
  7. 69Mustang macrumors 604


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    This is America son. Land of the free and the home of the even more free if you're a mega corporation with a massive lobbying arm. Any penalty is going to be perfunctory and nothing more than pablum for the masses.
  8. OlliFlamme macrumors regular


    Jan 2, 2018
    The future is bright for big brother. The future is now.

    This stinks, it’s amazing. I wonder if we need to assume that such stuff is happening in Europe too...? Is there any ‘rumours’ on that, perhaps?
  9. drumcat macrumors 6502a


    Feb 28, 2008
    Otautahi, Aotearoa
    If "Liberty" is promised, the location of someone not wanted/warranted is not sharable. Selling your location in real-time violates the Fourth Amendment, IMO. IANAL.
  10. SteveJUAE macrumors 68030


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    Been making some of Apple privacy policies irrelevant and ineffectual

    So much for what happens on your Iphone :rolleyes:
  11. Williesleg macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2014
    NY, NY
    Meanwhile companies like Tim Apple's keep scooping up my data and tell me it's ok.
  12. splifingate macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2013
    Oh, dear: the Secret's out.

    I went to the same workplace (same Clients (same Supply Hoose)); same Grocer; same Petrol station; same . . .

    . . . just like how I choose to add some random purchase linked to my Grocer '+card' every week (or so), it's fun to throw-in a random Lat/Lon once in a while; maybe prod a "ermigod! I just nodded-off at a Proposal Meeting" jolt in the Day-2-Day of some electrostatistician ;)

    I might just drive x-country this next week, and purch a cupola GS's at some wayward Denny's...

    ...just for fun ;)

    Regards, splifingate
  13. curtvaughan macrumors 65816


    Dec 23, 2016
    Austin, TX
    Rather an irony that one branch of the US government, the FCC, is supposedly all in a fluff over data sharing by the four big carriers, while another branch, the NSA, after having been exposed in spying on American people with aplomb by Edward Snowden six years ago, is merrily continuing its own snooping policies unabated. Snowden, meanwhile, is exiled and wanted for exposing the corruption. The FCC is less a regulative agency for the carriers than it is an enabler; the NSA no longer protects its citizenry from foreign enemy spying, but treats its own citizens as an enemy which must be spied upon.
  14. itr81 macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Basically location smart shared real-time data with Securus and they sold the data to the police and FBI, which bypassed the carriers entirely.
  15. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    And do companies like Apple send the data out for sale without your consent, except what is needed to run the business?
  16. elvisimprsntr macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2013
    Let's stop the charade and embrace our "Idiocracy" destiny.

  17. Cosmosent macrumors 6502a

    Apr 20, 2016
    La Jolla, CA
    As Ronald Reagan used to say (to Russia), "Trust, but Verified"
  18. aneftp macrumors 601

    Jul 28, 2007
    The issue is the carriers are making money off selling of data. We as consumers should be able to opt out. If we opt in. Consumers should be rebates back money from sell of consumer data. It’s always about the money.
  19. Macaholic868, May 1, 2019
    Last edited: May 1, 2019

    Macaholic868 macrumors 6502


    Feb 2, 2017
    This is a side show for Ajit Pai to get some good press. It’s long past time we recognize as a society that data about us has a monetary value and we should be the ones who decide what information we’re willing to offer and what we get in return.

    Today the opposite is true and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The Bill of Rights offered the greatest protection of our rights that the world had ever known at the time it was written but things have changed. You won’t find the word corporation in them because they weren’t a threat to our right to privacy at that time. We need to have a new Digital Bill of Rights that not only protects us from snooping by the government but also prevents snooping by both non profit and for profit corporations.
  20. Alan Wynn macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2017
    The Constitution only regulates the activity of the government, so a company with whom you choose to do business selling your information is not covered by the 4th amendment.
  21. JetTester macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2014
    Companies, especially huge ones, will do whatever they please with your data until they are forced to stop, either by criminal prosecution or severely punitive financial penalties. Asking a few questions won't change a thing. No pain is being inflicted.
  22. timborama macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2011
    Why isn't the FCC and telcos a little more concerned about spam and spoofed calls?!? Seems like that should be more pressing.
  23. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    While spam is an issue I'd put up with it, with abandon, if the big 4 stopped throwing around our personal data to anyone who asked.
  24. macfacts macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2012
    The carriers are selling their data, not our personal data. The data they are selling is about where and when the carrier sends/recieved data.

    Taxi analogy. I can track where my driver goes and when and who he picks up and drop off. That is my data and I can sell it.
  25. fairuz macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2017
    Silicon Valley
    At this point, there shouldn't be any questions, only penalties. That website giving out live location data of any phone to anyone who paid (or anyone who knew their vulnerability for some time) was the smoking gun. There's no way to explain that.

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