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AT&T Gets It, Will Cut Off Location Sharing

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

It's not paranoia if people really are following you.

AT&T knows that, and will stop selling data-tracking information in March. That's the information that tells mobile-based services where you are, where you have been, and where you are going.

The cellular provider still needs to know for GPS and other reasons, but AT&T heard the complaints about third-parties following customers around. They didn't like it.

Geolocation, You

Motherboard reported that mobile companies like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile were selling phone location information to aggregators. Some companies use the data for legitimate services, like providing emergency roadside assistance.

But for others, it's about reselling the information to advertisers. So when ads started popping up on your phone, your computer, and other devices, you were not having a Minority Report flashback.

It's advertising from the future, only it is already here. Lawyers, often on the edge of annoying advertising, do it too.

They buy your location data and then follow you. Don't look now, but it's real.

"Tracker in Your Pocket"

CNET says your phone is basically "a tracker in your pocket." That's how services, like Uber and Lyft, know where to pick you up.

Cell carriers have been selling the information to a number of industries, but lawmakers have threatened regulation because it is an invasion of privacy if customers don't agree to share it. The good news is you can turn off location services on your phone.

AT&T isn't waiting, however. The company stopped most of the third-party sales last year, but decided to cut them all off because of reports of abuse.

T-Mobile reportedly was the first carrier to stop the sales. Verizon and AT&T apparently are, er, following suit.

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