Google Knew Carriers Were Sharing Location-Data, Demanded Sprint & T-Mobile Not Share Fi's Customer Data

Last week, a pretty big story broke out of Motherboard, regarding the four US carriers. The fact that the carriers were sharing location-data of its customers, not only sharing but selling it. The investigation by Motherboard showed just how easy it was to get hands on someone's location-data, and it doesn't cost a whole lot either. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile were all selling data, though the investigation wasn't able to catch Verizon doing it. Now some more information is coming to light, which is the fact that Google not only knew about the carriers sharing customers' location-data, but also demanded them to not share customers data on its Fi network.

This might look like Google was being the good guy here and making sure that its customers were protected from these crazy location-data sharing schemes, but Google also didn't do anything about the carriers sharing data in general. Now, yes, it is out of Google's hands, but it could have talked the carriers into not doing it, or even bringing it up to the regulators, in an effort to protect all customers, not just Google Fi's customers.

Google Fi runs on both Sprint and T-Mobile's networks

Google launched Fi back in 2015, which was initially "Project Fi". This was Google's attempt at being a wireless carrier, but with a bit of a twist on it. Instead of being a traditional MVNO where the services Fi provides is run on one carrier's network, like T-Mobile. It instead runs on multiple carrier networks. It launched on Sprint and T-Mobile, later adding US Cellular support. The way that Fi works is, it will automatically connect to the network that has the better signal in the area you are in. So you may connect to T-Mobile, or Sprint, or US Cellular, depending on where you are located. It would also jump onto known WiFi hotspots and activate the VPN, so that you aren't using data, but your Internet usage is still protected. That made this pretty attractive to a number of those out there that don't use a lot of data.

AT&T and T-Mobile are cutting ties with all location aggregators

The issue isn't all AT&T and T-Mobile's fault here. They sold location-data to an aggregator, who then sold it to another company and so forth down the line. Which is how it ended up in the wrong hands - during the Motherboard investigation, where a bounty hunter was paid $300 and was able to track down a smartphone. AT&T and T-Mobile have both announced that they are cutting all ties to location aggregators by March - this is to make sure that it doesn't cripple any of its other services that either carrier offer. Despite Verizon not being part of this story, it also reiterated that it was in the process of cutting ties to location aggregators. Notably quiet, however, is Sprint. The fourth largest carrier has not said a word about this investigation, or whether it is looking to cut ties with its location aggregators. Though it wouldn't be surprising to hear from them in the near future.

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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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