Days after a new report came out that show that T-Mobile and other carriers were selling customer location data that could easily be bought and used by bounty hunters to track a phone’s location, T-Mobile has said that it’s working to end that practice.
T-Mobile said in a statement to The Verge that it has “blocked access to device location data for any request submitted by Zumigo.” In the report that came out earlier this week, the location data used to find a T-Mo phone for $300 was sold by T-Mobile to Zumigo, who then sold it to Microbilt, a company that then sold it to a bail bond company and the source that provided the phone’s location.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere made a similar statement on Twitter, saying that T-Mo is “completely ending location aggregator work.” He added that T-Mobile is trying to do it “the right way” to avoid affecting consumers who use these services for things like emergency assistance. “It will end in March,” Legere added.
I keep my word, @RonWyden. T-Mobile IS completely ending location aggregator work. We’re doing it the right way to avoid impacting consumers who use these types of services for things like emergency assistance. It will end in March, as planned and promised.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) January 9, 2019
As for the other U.S. carriers, Sprint told that it has ended its contract with Zumigo and blocked Microbilt from accessing Sprint location data. It also said that it will not “knowingly share personally identifiable geo-location information” except when it comes to legal requests.
Verizon says that it ended its agreement with Zumigo before the original report came out this week. AT&T has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.
This is the second time in the past year that T-Mobile has been part of a location data scandal. In 2018, a company called LocationSmart had a bug with its website that allowed anyone to track the location of any phone for free. T-Mo CEO John Legere said then that T-Mobile would not sell customer location data to “shady middlemen”. Now that Legere says T-Mo is ending its location aggregator work, hopefully T-Mobile can avoid a third scandal involving the sale of customer location data.