AT&T defended the sale of user location data in a letter made public today, saying that the practice was technically legal because it did not involve the type of data the Federal Communications Commission prohibits carriers from selling without user consent. Despite that defense, the company claims it has, in the past few months, accelerated its plan to stop providing such data, which, again, AT&T would very much like to remind everyone wasn’t against the law. The FCC is investigating the telecom and fellow carriers T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon for the long-standing practice that only in the past couple of years has come to light after press investigations. All four major carriers claimed they would stop the practice in June 2018 after a security breach exposed sensitive user data, but new revelations about location information acquired by bounty hunters on the black market have undermined the companies’ pledges. Verizon was the first company to say it would stop providing such data to aggregators and would only give it to roadside assistance providers. The other carriers followed with similar provisions for law enforcement and emergency requests. However, earlier this year, it was discovered that the data was still being made available to some third-party companies like Zumigo and Microbilt, which were easily accessible by bounty hunters, Motherboard found. The carriers claimed the fault lies with its partners for not handling the data appropriately and deleting it when necessary, and lawmakers have applied increased pressure on the companies to follow through on… [Read full story]
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