This case seeks to stop AT&T and two data location aggregators from allowing numerous entities—including bounty hunters, car dealerships, landlords, and stalkers—to access wireless customers’ real-time locations without authorization.
An investigation by Motherboard earlier this year revealed that any cellphone user’s precise, real-time location could be bought for just $300. The report showed that carriers, including AT&T, were making this data available to hundreds of third parties without first verifying that users had authorized such access. AT&T not only failed to obtain its customers’ express consent, making matters worse, it created an active marketplace that trades on its customers’ real-time location data.
The lawsuit, brought on behalf AT&T customers in California, alleges AT&T violated the Federal Communications Act and engaged in deceptive practices under California’s unfair competition law, as AT&T deceived customers into believing that the company was protecting their location data. The suit also alleges that AT&T, LocationSmart, and Zumigo have violated California’s constitutional, statutory, and common law rights to privacy. EFF and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP are co-counsel in the case.
The lawsuit, Scott, et al. v. AT&T Inc., et al., filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, seeks money damages and an injunction against AT&T, as well as the involved location data aggregators, LocationSmart and Zumigo. The injunction would prohibit AT&T from selling customer location data and ensure that any location data already sold is returned to AT&T or destroyed.
The court dismissed Scott on February 16, 2021.