Verizon, AT&T to stop sales of phone location data to third parties

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WASHINGTON - Verizon and AT&T are pledging to stop selling data to outsiders through intermediaries that can pinpoint the location of mobile phones, the Associated Press has learned.

Verizon on Tuesday became the first major U.S. wireless carrier to step back from the business practice, which has drawn criticism for endangering privacy. The data has allowed third parties to track wireless devices without their owners' knowledge or consent.

AT&T later announced that it, too, would end sales of phone location data to brokers as soon as practical.

Verizon says it has been supplying the customer data to about 75 third parties via two California-based brokers and will halt that arrangement as soon as possible.

The company disclosed its plans in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Last month, Wyden revealed abuses in the lucrative but loosely regulated field. They involved a former Missouri sheriff who allegedly used a location tracking service to surveil colleagues.

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