GOP Seeks Carrier Info on Handling of Location Data

House Republican leaders have weighed into the issue of wireless carriers and how they secure and/or share geo-location data of their users.

On Wednesday (Jan. 16), House Energy & Commerce Committee members sent letters to T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and others in the wake of reports of T-Mobile selling geo-location data to a third party, Zumingo.

The letters are seeking info on how carriers and third parties access, transfer, and secure customer location data.

Related: Pallone Slams Pai for Declining Briefing on Carrier Location Data

The letters were signed by Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and Oversight and Investigations Republican Subcommittee ranking member Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.).

“According to a recent Motherboard investigative report, nationwide wireless carriers may be continuing to sell American customers’ real-time location data and information to various third parties without customers’ knowledge and consent," the legislators wrote. "According to the report, Zumigo, a location aggregation firm, purchased geo-location data from T-Mobile, and subsequently sold that data to Microbilt, a third party firm, which further disseminated the geo-location data to another company and intermediary. This practice of selling and sharing of location information through multiple entities potentially impacts hundreds of millions of American customers. We are deeply troubled because it is not the first time we have received reports and information about the sharing of mobile users’ location information involving a number of parties who may have misused personally identifiable information.”

Among the questions they want answered are whether others have the same contracts with Zumingo or other third parties and whether they have a screening process for such third parties. Among the info they want from the carriers are lists of the records they provide location aggregators like Zumingo.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.