Telecom operators commit to no longer sell location data but Congress is not satisfied


Earlier this week, after US wireless service providers were criticized for selling the location data of their users without consent, the industry promised to end the practice. The response of the industry, however, has not satisfied the leaders of Congress. On Friday, Frank Pallone, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Trade, asked the FCC to provide committee staff with an emergency briefing on the issue.

"While some carriers have now reaffirmed their willingness to prevent such unauthorized disclosures, the public can no longer rely on their voluntary promises to protect this extremely sensitive information," Pallone said in a letter to the FCC.

This letter follows a report from the motherboard, which shows how T-Mobile, AT & T and Sprint continue to sell location data to third-party aggregators, allowing black market data to be resold to anyone willing to pay. This practice continues even though mobile operators have promised to end the practice last June.

On Thursday, AT & T and T-Mobile announced the end of location data sales by March. Verizon, meanwhile, announced the phasing out of its last four partnerships.

Pallone is not the only legislator skeptical of these commitments. On Friday, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., congratulated Pallone to "make that first critical step towards creating real transparency and oversight of mobile operators who misuse the data of Americans" Wyden reiterated his call to Congress for it to enact its legislation banning operators to sell location data of mobile subscribers.

Pallone said the FCC emergency information meeting is scheduled for Monday, whether the federal government is still closed or not.

"An emergency briefing is necessary in the interest of public and national security, and so can not wait for President Trump to reopen the government," he wrote.