Senators Call For FCC Investigation of Phone Companies Selling Location Data

Sen. Kamala harris, D-Calif.

Sen. Kamala harris, D-Calif. Saul Loeb/AP

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Your telecom company knows where you are—and it may be selling that information.

Several lawmakers have responded to a recent Motherboard article detailing the extent to which telecom companies like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile use and sell our location data. 

For the article, a Motherboard reporter paid a bounty hunter $300 and the phone number of a target to find. Using a service that gets location data from telecommunications companies, the bounty hunter was able to find the target's location in near real time. 

Lawmakers, including Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Kamala Harris, D-Calif. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are not happy and are calling for a Federal Communications Commission investigation into the practice. 

“The American people have an absolute right to the privacy of their data, which is why I’m extraordinarily troubled by reports of this system of repackaging and reselling location data to unregulated third party services for potentially nefarious purposes. If true, this practice represents a legitimate threat to our personal and national security,” said Harris in a statement to Motherboard.

Wyden introduced privacy legislation in November that he believes would address the location tracking issue. 

“The industry has failed again and again to protect Americans’ information. It’s time for Congress to step in and pass strong privacy legislation, like my bill, to safeguard our data and hold companies accountable when they fail,” Wyden told Motherboard.

It isn't just lawmakers who have called for FCC investigation. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has also made a statement:

Customers can't opt out of the location tracking done by their mobile service provider, however, they can take steps to limit the amount of information Google and Apple collect about them.