In Verizon's letter, it noted that services like truck rental companies often use location data provided from phones to help customers who have trouble on the road. The partnerships can power services like bank fraud prevention, emergency roadside assistance and marketing deals, which depend on knowing a customer's whereabouts. They then give other companies access to their location-based services that utilize Verizon's and other carriers' data. That month, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, asking it to investigate the wireless carriers due to Securus' actions.
Last month, Wyden revealed abuses in the lucrative but loosely regulated field involving Securus Technologies, whose contract Verizon says was approved only for the location tracking of outside mobile phones called by prison inmates.
None of the four carriers responded to questions from the AP on whether they plan to sell location data directly instead of relying on the two California companies and, if so, how.
Verizon claimed that location data was only sold if users had explicitly agreed to it, and that the sale of such information was only allowed "under specific conditions" which include fraud detection "or customer identification among others".
Wyden wrote all four major USA wireless carriers on May 8 after learning about a web portal that let law officers track Americans' locations without proper oversight.
The sale of such data, which was done through intermediaries, has always been under fire as it allowed third-party companies to track people's movements without their knowledge or consent. It did so in a June 15 letter to Sen.
This issue came to the fore earlier this year when a former sheriff was charged with illegally using a phone location service 11 times without securing a court order.
Which sounds good until you consider that the fact that there is clear evidence that the opposite is true and user location data is being freely sold without any such consent.
A spokesperson for 3Cinteractive did not respond to a request for comment.
Sprint said account holders must "generally be notified" if the data is to be used so they can decide whether they consent.
"Verizon did the responsible thing and promptly announced it was cutting these companies off", Wyden said in a statement of his own.
It appears that Securus was itself buying the data from LocationSmart. "Chairman Pai's total abandonment of his responsibility to protect Americans' security shows that he can't be trusted to oversee an investigation into the shady companies that he used to represent", Wyden said.
"Our review of our location aggregator program has led to a number of internal questions about how best to protect our customers' location data, " Verizon wrote to Wyden.
As for T-Mobile and Sprint, things are still up in the air.