'A Motherboard investigation revealed in January how any cellphone users’ real-time location could be obtained for $300. The pervasiveness of the practice, coupled with the extreme invasion of people’s privacy, is alarming.
The reporting showed there is a vibrant market for location data generated by everyone’s cell phones—information that can be incredibly detailed and provide a window into people’s most sensitive and private activities. The investigation also laid bare that cell phone carriers AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and the many third parties with access to the companies’ location data, have little interest or incentive to stop.
This market of your personal information violates federal law and Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules that protect people’s location privacy. The market also violates FCC rules prohibiting disclosure of extremely sensitive location information derived in part from GPS data that is only to be disclosedwhen emergency responders need to find people during an emergency.
We expected the FCC to take immediate action to shut down the unlawful location data market and to punish the bad actors.
But many months later, the FCC has not taken any public action. It’s a bad sign when minority FCC commissioners have to take to the pages of the New York Times to call for an end to the practices, or must send their own letters to carriers to get basic information about the problem. Although some members of Congress have investigated and demanded an end to the practice, no solution is in sight.
Earlier this year, the major cell phone providers promised that they have endedor will end the practices. Those promises ring hollow after they promised to endsale of the same location data in 2018.
In light of this inaction, consumers must step up to make sure that their location data is no longer so easily sold and that laws are enforced to prohibit it from happening again.'
Read more: If Regulators Won’t Stop The Sale of Cell Phone Users’ Location Data, Consumers Must