Congress is calling for an investigation into cell phone providers selling users’ location data. But given how much money they’ve taken from telecom companies we know they’ll only do it if we make them.

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash.

TL;DR — Cell phone companies like AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are selling your location data and it’s ending up in the hands of bad actors. This should be illegal. Demand that Congress and the FCC investigate this disturbing business practice and pass laws to ensure it can’t happen going forward.

$300. That’s all it costs for literally anyone out there to find out your exact location at this very moment. If that sounds scary to you, it should be.

Earlier this week, a disturbing report showed how a bounty hunter can use location data that had been sold by big telecoms to track the phone’s location in real time… and all it cost was a few hundred dollars to locate their target.

Without your knowledge or permission, cell phone companies like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have been selling your location and other personal information to third parties like Securus Technologies. Because there are no controls on how this data is shared and used, it is being resold over and over again on a black market of marketing agencies, car salesmen, property managers, bail bondsmen, and bounty hunters.

This incredible disregard for personal information could put your identity, your finances, and even the safety of you and your family at risk. Just imagine what a stalker, an abusive ex, your boss, the government, or anyone with an axe to grind might do with this sensitive data.

Of course, this type of dangerous business practice used to be illegal. In 2016, the FCC adopted broadband privacy rules to give consumers increased choice, transparency, and security over how their personal data was being used by big telecoms.

But in 2017, Congress made the outrageous decision to gut these important protections, allowing Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others to allow those companies to monitor, collect, store, and sell information about our online and mobile activity to the highest bidder. We warned our lawmakers that repealing these safety precautions would inevitably lead to the abuse of our most sensitive personal information. Unfortunately, Congress ignored us. Now, here we are.

We all know that tech companies like Google and Facebook and telecom companies like Verizon will do just about anything to continue to profit off of the use and abuse of our location and other sensitive data. The only way to fight back is to show our elected officials that the public overwhelmingly supports online privacy protections.

Luckily, some of those elected officials are listening. Earlier this week, several senators called for an investigation into this terrifying breach of business ethics.

If you want your lawmakers to join the effort to protect your privacy data, contact Congress now to demand that they work with the FCC to investigate why cell phone companies are selling our location and personal information, and enforce laws to prevent this from ever happening again.

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We believe there's hardly anything as important as ensuring that our shared future has freedom of expression and creativity at its core.