T-Mobile discloses another instance of location data misuse


T-Mobile and the other major U.S. carriers have been involved in a few location data scandals recently, and now some details on another possible locaiton data issue has surfaced.

In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, T-Mobile revealed another instance of T-Mo customer location data misuse. Anthony Russo, T-Mobile’s VP of Federal Legislative Affairs, explains that in August 2014 a location aggregator called LocAid told T-Mobile that it was temporarily suspending a location-based services provider named Freedom Telecare due to a vulnerability in the customer consent mechanism. That vulnerability was eventually addressed and the service was re-enabled.

Russo goes into further detail, saying that there was a suspicion that a paying customer of Freedom Telecom had acquired location information without customer consent, but that “review of the evidence could not confirm improper disclosure of location data.”

Details on the vulnerability and data misuse are light. Neither Freedom Telecare nor LocationSmart, which acquired LocAid, have commented on the issue. However, Motherboard notes that Freedom Telecare partnered with LocAid on a service called Timesheet Mobile that allowed employers to track the location of their employees.

There’s been a lot of focus on the four major U.S. carriers, location data aggregators, and misuse of customer data lately. The location aggregator program allowed wireless customers to use location-based services like roadside assistance, but following some of these scandals, T-Mobile decided to end its contracts with location aggregators LocationSmart and Zumigo. On March 9th, T-Mobile’s location-based services contracts with location aggregators were officially ended.

Source: Motherboard

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  • steveb944

    Never thought employers would track their employees via cellphone. We track cars, not phones.

  • mikeZo6

    Just Turn OFF any Tmo app when it comes to app asking too use your LOCATION
    select NEVER use location

    • Angel Thymera

      That’s only one method they track you. They also use cell towers you’re connected to – to triangulate where you are. Third-party vendors that install services on your device you can’t disable on a stock setup, device drivers that have their own backend connections to their manufacturers, Google and their location providers .. The list goes on

      • g2a5b0e

        This is fact. I get location-based advertising all the time and I only ever have my location on for directions when I’m driving. Happens often when I walk into a Target or 7-11 even if I haven’t had my location on that day.

        • riverhorse

          This is very true even with everything else off(that also serves to locate like wifi and Bluetooth).
          Now, there are apps that can use Location without turning it on(or maybe this process is super fast to remain practically unnoticeable).
          I suspect Google Maps or Android system’s / carrier’s / third party’s phone locator or some app that interfaces with them.

        • PsycheInfidelic

          Download software that blocks ads, tracking and malware. I personally like Blockada, but there are others. It sets up a VPN to allow it to control all traffic in and out of the phone so that nothing is sent from apps unless you allow it. It is astounding the apps that are sending information. It is also shocking the amount of information that google sends continuously to it’s servers.

        • riverhorse

          Great suggestion!
          Plus like you say so many apps constantly start & run in the background transmitting. I have apps installed and used maybe once over a year ago that have no business doing this, and so repeatedly–large and well-known entities we all know, not talking about anyone sketchy or generally unknown.
          This is so out of control that the average user, especially one with lots of apps, needs pretty much a flagship phone or close to one. Just like with computers one can’t do with a cheap model for just surfing and email–open many tabs and pay the price.

          Now, personally, it’s all good anyway:
          “Some” otherwise unknown excellent offers and new info have arrived from intrusive methodology. We can categorize this under FOMO.
          Not overtly worried about security and privacy because there is none, only Theater. Because besides what is regularly traded and sold, 100% of everything that is portable and/or connects to the web is hackable / decryptable. The rest that doesn’t fall under this purview is still vulnerable to social engineering/unscrupulous insider/unconstitutional court order. We have safety in numbers though–just like too many wildebeest for the predators, too many houses for the neighborhood thieves. Categorize this under reckless or what, me care?
          A compromise could be with a third party app to whiteboard some apps, edit some behavior of others…oh, the drudgery. Categorize this under laziness or better things to do.
          So I guess make do with a more upscale phone. Categorize this under lemming behavior.
          Dang, either I’m pragmatic or a lazy, clueless follower.
          Either way, much respect to any contrarian who takes the time / makes the effort to batten down the hatches.

        • PsycheInfidelic

          And that is it, the drudgery of having to do this to have some silly belief and illusion of privacy. It is a constant pain to have to deal with the corporate surveillance. It is easier to just say, “oh well, I don’t do anything worth anyone caring or anything wrong so who cares”. I guess I have read far too many dystopian sci fi novels and it has distorted my views. It was probably the book, “The Shockwave Rider”, that set me on my path of paranoia :) It’s a good read and prophetic considering it was written in the early 70’s.

          In any case, I will not give away my data for free, they will at least have to work for it. And work they do, the google apps made 3100 requests to the Blockada Firewall on my phone to send data to their servers today. What in the world could creepy google need that much information about me for? If knowledge is Power, and google has knowledge about everyone, how much power do they really have? And is that a good thing?

        • riverhorse

          You’re doing everything absolutely correct, keep it up! And your views are totally in the right place. And, even if with time your views change a bit, it will only be more of an everything at its right time and place thing… The natural progression.

          Some of us started with PC’s when they were glorified word processors, then building systems n overclocking while always tinkering with unofficial tweaks to each subsequent windows bloat release. Ditto for dsl and routers. Ditto for cellphones all over again.
          But then we get hit with gut punch of Specter, etc. + all the rogue hacking exploits of governments and police departments the world over…and worse- how system performance will be degraded in order to block, but even worse- nonetheless still remaining vulnerable on phone and computer.
          So you wonder, again for the umpteenth time why expend all the time and effort.
          Between this and OS progressive bloat, for example, there has sprung up a niche computer market of new windows 7 systems- a lot of software and database work runs much faster on 7 & xp.

          It all boils down to normal maturing ageing, the 8020 rule, and the for every move there is always a countermove.
          But it feels frustrating while going thru it- know it all technological entities, politicians, sports organizations, social movements will all disappoint at times.

          Peace, and keep on keeping on.

    • RealShit

      That helps (a little). But like alsonzso said… they can still track you and its bullshit.

    • dl_crash

      Even better don’t buy phones from carrier, which all come with apps you can’t disable or install.

  • alfonzso

    There’s an app called Bouncer, but yeah, T-Mobile and other providers can still triangulate you.

  • Mike Thaler

    I don’t care if someone know where I am as long as the advertising is not obtrusive. BTW, How much does it cost companies to make use of satellites tax payers paid to launch?

  • Dharharr

    Librem 5 anyone?

    • PsycheInfidelic

      Absolutely, but can anyone confirm that it will work on t-mobile? I would get one the second it releases if I knew that. I didn’t preorder because I could not confirm the frequencies that it will operate on.

      • Dharharr

        I think we’d be stuck on bands 2 and 4 as per this table here (SIM7100A): https://developer.puri.sm/Librem5/Development_Environment/Boards/dev-kit/modem.html

        Maybe in the future there will be other modems we can purchase and replace it so we can take advantage of all T-mobile’s frequencies.

        • PsycheInfidelic

          Thanks for the reply! Bands 2 and 4 work for most of where I need it, but at home I absolutely have to have band 12 or I get no usable service. That is most unfortunate because I really really want to support their efforts with this phone.