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Refunds for 300 million telephone users filed in litigation over location data sales



  A person's hand holding a smartphone showing a map.

The four major US wireless operators face proposed case handling cases accusing them of violating federal law by selling their customers' real-time location data to third parties.

Complaints about class action status and financial damage were filed last week against AT & T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint in the US District Court for the District of Maryland. The four suites, which are filed on behalf of Z Law Firm's lawyers in Maryland, all begin with text almost identical to this intro found in the clothing against AT&T:

This action originates from Defendant Collection of Geolocation Data and unauthorized disclosure to third parties of the geolocation data collected from the user's mobile phones. AT&T does not sell customer geolocation data to third parties, including but not limited to data aggregators, which may, in turn, use or resell the geolocation data with little or no AT&T control. Protect highly personal and private consumer geolocation data in violation of federal law.

The proposed classes will include all four carriers their customers in the US between 201

5 and 2019. In all, there would be 300 million or more customers, as the lawsuits say the proposed classes consist of at least 100 million customers each for AT & T and Verizon and at least 50 million for Sprint and T-Mobile. Each lawsuit seeks compensation for consumers "in an amount to be proved by the trial."

Carriers Pledged to Stop Data Sales

In June 2018, all four major operators promised to stop selling their mobile customers' location information to third-party vendors. Party data brokers after a security issue leaked the real-time location of US mobile phone users. The promises came after revelations that the prison telephone company Securus offered a service that allows police authorities to find most US cell phones within seconds. Securus & # 39; s service was on LocationSmart data, a data aggregator that received location information from the carriers.

Despite the carrier's promises, a motherboard survey in January 2019 found that "T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT & T are [still] selling access to customer location data and the data ending in the hands of bounty hunters and others who are not authorized to own it so that they track most phones in the country. "

All four lawsuits against the major carriers discuss the Securus case, while the three lawsuits against T-Mobile, Sprint and AT & T also mention the motherboard's reporting about the subsequent data sale. The lawsuits reference letter between Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) And the carriers-Wyden had demanded information from the carriers and pushed them to end their sales of customer data.

The lawsuits accuse operators of violating Section 222 of the US Communications Act, which states that carriers must not use or disclose location information "without explicit prior approval from the customer." The lawsuits also say that each carrier did not follow its own privacy policy and "profit from the sale and unauthorized disclosure of plaintiffs and class members" [19659022]. "

Although not mentioned in the lawsuits, Data Sales may also have violated the Federal Communications Commission rules against the misuse of data intended for 911 emergency location services.

AT & T promises to fight lawsuits

" Facts do not support This lawsuit and we will fight it, "AT & T Ars says today." Local-based services such as directions, fraud protection and medical device warnings have clear and even lifesaving benefits. We only share placement data with the customer's consent. We stopped sharing location data with aggregators after reports of abuse. "

T-Mobile refused to comment on the lawsuit, but the company told Ars that" all of the service provider's access to location data from February 8, 2019, "terminated." Sprint said it is " undergo legal filing, "but refused to make any other comments.

We also contacted Verizon and will update this article if we receive a response.

Separately last week, Federal Communications Commission Member sent Jessica Rosenworcel a letter to the four carriers Asking if they have fulfilled their promises to stop selling real-time location information to the computer aggregates.

Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the Republican-controlled FCC, also blew the Commission's leadership for inaction. "The Federal Communications Commission has said it is investigation, But almost a year after this news was broken, the agency did not give anyone the public talks, says Rosenworcel's announcement. "Neither has any public action been taken to ensure that this activity has stopped."

In March, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating privacy practices for top-level and home-based ISPs, and the organization commissioned ISPs to determine whether they share browsing histories, device location information, and other sensitive data with third parties.


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