Lawmakers Want Answers After The Sale and Misuse Of Location Data

(Cues Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me”)

AT&T and other phone companies are restructuring their policies on selling customers’ location data to third-parties after a report by Motherboard found the information was being misused by law enforcement agencies and bounty hunters.

AT&T said it would completely stop selling users’ location data, even to firms that had clear, helpful uses for the information. Last year, the company said it would stop selling the information to third parties after it was revealed that location data was being used to track people by law enforcement.

“This is outrageous. I didn’t sign up for this when I signed up for wireless service and I bet neither did you,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said to CBS. “It turns out that they’re selling that information to companies called location aggregators who in turn are selling that to shady middlemen who for a few hundred dollars will sell to anyone, your location within a few hundred meters. I think that is a problem.” 

Rosenworcel is now calling for an investigation into how phone companies sell customers’ location data.

AT&T said it would continue to sell data to aggregation services that helped customers with roadside assistance and fraud prevention, but that has also been nixed. The changes are set to be completed by March.