Last year it was discovered that Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile were all selling your real-time location data to third-party companies. They offered no oversight of what the companies did with the data whatsoever, and if that’s not disturbing enough, those third-parties turned around and sold the data to yet other parties like LocationSmart.
That access made it easier for the government to track citizens without going through a full warrant process, was a veritable gold mine for advertisers, and oh, LocationSmart accidentally leaked the data to the world with an insecure API.
When all this came out, the companies pledged to stop selling your data in varying statements. The most notable statement came directly from T-Mobile CEO John Legere:
…I’ve personally evaluated this issue & have pledged that T-Mobile will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen.
But last January, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T got caught continuing the practice. In that case, your location data was so laughably accessible; a bounty hunter could buy it for a mere $300. The companies quickly promised that they’d investigate ending the programs very soon.
Now, five months later (and a year after the original report), the big four are promising they stopped selling your location data to third-parties. Even as they stress that they had the right to do so, and did nothing wrong. This time, we’re sure they “super-duper promise” and really mean it. [TechCrunch]
In Other News
- Stack Overflow got hacked. Stack Overflow, the programmer’s question and answer site, admitted hackers breached its production systems yesterday. The good news? They haven’t found evidence the hackers gained access to user data yet. The bad news? The company is still investigating, hence the word “yet.” [ZDNet]
- Verizon’s 5G hits gigabit speeds. If you have a $1400 5G phone, and you’re in the right city, and you’re standing on the right street, you can get gigabit speeds now. That’s “download a movie in 90 seconds” fast. We’re envious of both people who have good 5G access. The rest of us will have to wait. [The Verge]
- Google is adding new features to Android’s Live Transcribe. Live Transcribe is a neat Android feature that converts the conversation around you to text, which is fantastic for anyone with hearing problems. Soon it will start transcribing sounds (like clapping) and let you save the transcription for three days. [9to5Google]
- YouTube VR is coming with Oculus Quest. Usually, a non-Google VR set has to wait months to get YouTube VR love. In good news for the Oculus Quest, YouTube VR will grace the headset when it ships. Just what you need for watching those 360-degree cat videos without your friends and family knowing. [VentureBeat]
- Asus’s new phone has a flip-up camera. Asus announced a new powerhouse $500 phone with a Snapdragon 855 processor, a huge 5,000mAh, and a motorized flipping camera. The camera flips back and forth between regular and selfie mode, providing a notchless screen. [Android Police]
- Amazon’s cheap Fire tablet gets a welcome spec bump. Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet is getting a faster processor and twice the storage capacity. It’s the first update in two years and comes without a price increase. Not bad, not bad. [Liliputing]
- Microsoft and Sony are best Frenemies forever. If you think Microsoft and Sony didn’t take notice of Google’s Project Stadia, think again. The two companies announced a partnership for their game streaming futures. The details are vague, but for now, let’s focus on two competitors shaking hands. GG guys, GG. [BBC]
- Grumpycat died, but her spirit lives on. Tardar Sauce, the cat behind the meme you’ve only shared 3000 times, died last Tuesday according to her family. She may be physically gone, but the joy and laughter she brought many will outlive us all. [NPR]
When we last left off with the Works with Nest program, Google said it would shut the service down entirely and after August 31st your integrations would stop working. Going forward, new Nest features would be dependent on migrating your Nest account to a Google account. However, if you migrated to a Google account your Works with Nest integrations would stop working immediately.
Well, Google listened to the criticisms and complaints surrounding this decision, and it wants you to know… that it isn’t changing course.
The company offered the smallest of concessions; it no longer plans to cut off your Works with Nest integrations after August 31st. But since Google still plans to tie all new features to Google accounts, and migrating will still cut off your integrations, that’s realistically the promise of a reprieve without the delivery.
Sooner or later you’ll be forced to choose between giving up new features or losing old integrations. [The Verge]