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US wireless carrier Sprint ends data aggregation arrangements

Sprint Corp. has ended arrangements with data aggregators following a recent report highlighting the sale of mobile location data by third-party aggregators, a company spokesperson confirmed Jan. 16.

The original report, which was released Jan. 8 by Vice Media’s Motherboard, said that T-Mobile US Inc., Sprint and AT&T Inc. are "selling access to their customers' location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country."

Sprint initially responded to the report by saying that it had terminated its contract with Zumigo, a third-party aggregator named in the report.

All three carriers named in the report have now announced plans to end location aggregation services with third parties.

AT&T announced Jan. 10 it was ending all location aggregation services in response to the claims, while T-Mobile on Jan. 9 reaffirmed its previous commitment to terminate all third-party data aggregator agreements.

The Motherboard report also drew the ire of policymakers. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission's Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called on the agency to investigate immediately. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, requested an emergency briefing from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on the commission's actions related to ending the unauthorized disclosure of real-time location data.

On Jan. 14, Pallone said that Pai refused to brief committee staff and that Pai's staff claimed the issues raised in the report were not a threat to the safety of human life or property, which is the only work the commission will perform during the shutdown besides auctions, according to Pai.