By FRANK BAJAK
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have pledged to stop providing information on U.S. phone owners’ locations to data brokers, stepping back from a business practice that has drawn criticism for endangering privacy.
The data has apparently allowed outside companies to pinpoint the location of wireless devices without their owners’ knowledge or consent. Verizon said that about 75 companies have been obtaining its customer data from two little-known California-based brokers that Verizon supplies directly — LocationSmart and Zumigo.
Verizon was the first major carrier to declare it would end sales of such data to brokers that then provide it to others. It did so in a June 15 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been probing the phone location-tracking market. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint followed suit Tuesday after The Associated Press reported the Verizon move.
None of the carriers said they are getting out of the business of selling location data. The carriers together have more than 300 million U.S. subscribers