In light of the various issues regarding privacy and security compromises, Verizon has announced that it will not be sharing real-time location of cellular users to third-party organizations. It needs to be noted that the sharing of real-time location is a common practice among cellular service providers. However, in the recent few months, many cases have emerged regarding the security of the location. It is because sharing of such sensitive data has put third-party entities in a position to know the pin-point location of cellular users. It has to be noted that most of the users have not provided consent to be done so.
Now that the decision has been made, real-time location data of Verizon customers will not be provided to data brokers. Data Brokers are organizations that provide the same data to third-party companies which are likely to use the data for non-privacy-friendly purposes. Recently, there was a case from Missouri, where a Sherriff was accused of using one of the real-time location services — namely Securus — to track individuals in the place without their consent or a court order to do so. In light of this issue, many cellular carriers had withdrawn from providing data to Securus.
Nevertheless, Verizon has gone a step ahead and stopped the data sales with aggregators. It is through such aggregators that organization have access to real-time location of users. According to Verizon, 75 companies are getting access to user data through two data brokers that Verizon is linked to. Now that the broker sales are not permitted by the company, data sharing will not be possible. Senator Ron Wyden has commended the act of Verizon while adding that other cellular carriers like AT&T and Sprint are not concerned about the safety of user data. In related news, it was found a few weeks before that a bug in LocationSmart website was making every cellular user’s location data publicly available.