Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are shutting off sales of their mobile customer location data to brokers who resell it to third parties. The companies can continue selling data to end-users. It means data providers are seeing increased public concern about data privacy, but the move doesn’t appear to impact location-based marketing such as geo-location or local search.
The Verizon, AT&T and Sprint announcements come after the public learned data brokers were selling the information without customer knowledge or consent.
ABC News reports yesterday:
“Location data from Verizon and other carriers makes it possible to identify the whereabouts of nearly any phone in the U.S. within seconds. Popular commercial uses for the information include keeping tabs on packages, vehicles and employees; bank fraud prevention; and targeted marketing offers.
“The cutoff won't affect users' ability to share locations directly with apps and other services.”
Frank Bajak of ABC News further states that Verizon was the first company to cut off the data brokers, which it did by sending a letter to “Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been probing the phone location-tracking market.”
“Sprint said it had suspended all services with LocationSmart since May 25, and is still conducting an internal review.
“T-Mobile didn't respond to a request for comment.”
One source contacted Target Marketing yesterday with a similar sentiment. Dan Goldstein is the president and owner of Page 1 Solutions, a full-service digital marketing agency. He says:
"Until now, almost all of the recent news about the sale of private data has been focused on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Verizon's announcement highlights the fact that private user data is captured by multiple technology companies.
"Your smartphone tracks everywhere you go, as well as everyone you call or text. Your browser tracks everything you do on your computer. Verizon is learning from Facebook's mistakes by getting out in front of this issue. It begs the question, however, about what other private data they have been capturing and selling and also demonstrates that many other tech companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, as well as ISP providers like AT&T and Comcast, among others, may have sold private user data without consent. Consumers need to be aware of this and tech companies need to be transparent about what private user data they collect and what they do with it.”
Asked about local search and more, Goldstein tells Target Marketing:
"Local search probably will not be impacted by this decision since Google doesn't need to sell data to a third party to show local search results. Google relies on Google Maps, not Verizon for geo-location data and is able to use that in search result such as "find an Italian restaurant near me". I don't believe that marketing with beacons will be significantly impacted by Verizon's or At&T's decision to stop selling phone location data since beacons use low energy bluetooth signals to push messages to nearby devices."
What do you think, marketers?
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