What now? The carriers won't necessarily end their deals with these companies immediately; AT&T, for instance, said it will do so "as soon as practical" while keeping up services such as emergency roadside assistance. Typically, the company said, the data sharing helps auto rental companies provide roadside assistance and allows financial services companies to combat fraud.
Major US cellphone carriers say they're cutting off companies that buy consumers' real-time location details-a move that comes after a customer (of a customer) of one such company apparently shared people's data without first getting their permission.
According to Verizon, Securus was an "approved third party for the location aggregator LocationSmart" but that it was only supposed to use the data to determine "that call recipients were not within a certain distance of the prison from which a collect phone call was placed".
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".
Verizon's decision to choke off data aggregators was applauded by Wyden, who issued a statement: "After my investigation and follow-up reports revealed that middlemen are selling Americans' location to the highest bidder without their consent, or making it available on insecure web portals, Verizon did the responsible thing and promptly announced it was cutting these companies off".
Lisa Belot, a spokeswoman for Sprint, said in a statement to The Hill that the company is reviewing its data-sharing practices.
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Last month, Wyden revealed abuses in the lucrative but loosely regulated field. 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.
LocationSmart and Securus did not respond to a request for comment.
On Tuesday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said on Twitter that it too had ended partnerships with data aggregators.
"When these issues were brought to our attention, we took immediate steps to stop it. Customer privacy and security remain a top priority for our customers and our company", Verizon spokesman Rich Young said in a statement. "The company does not warehouse or track a mobile user's historic identity and location information", said the company. It said it would not authorize any "new uses" of the data while that "transition" went ahead. Securus purchased location information which had been sold by the data broker LocationSmart. Aggregators could then share location data with their own customers. "We will not enter into new location aggregation arrangements unless and until we are comfortable that we can adequately protect our customers' location data through technological advancements and/or other practices".
That still leaves T-Mobile and Sprint that continue to sell location data under the same program that they already know has been abused.