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AT&T ends location aggregation services in wake of report

AT&T Inc. is ending all location aggregation services in the wake of a recent report highlighting the sale of mobile location data by third-party aggregators, a company spokesperson confirmed Jan. 10.

"In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have decided to eliminate all location aggregation services – even those with clear consumer benefits," said the spokesperson. "We are immediately eliminating the remaining services and will be done in March."

The original report, from Vice Media’s Motherboard, said that T-Mobile US Inc., Sprint Corp. and AT&T 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."

In response to those claims, an AT&T spokesperson said Jan. 9 that the company is in the process of shutting down third-party access to customer location data outside of cases where a customer gives consent or when the company is legally compelled to do so.

T-Mobile also reaffirmed on Jan. 9 a previous commitment to terminate all agreements with third-party data aggregators.

A Sprint spokesperson said on Jan. 9 that the company has terminated a contract with Zumigo, a third-party aggregator believed to have sold customer location data to MicroBilt Corp., a company found to have sold data from consumer devices to a wide range of companies.

The report quickly sparked new calls for investigation into the way phone location data is stored and shared, including from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's Jessica Rosenworcel and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.