Canadian privacy officials are looking into the several recent reports alleging Bell, Rogers and Telus are sharing location data on subscribers with third-parties, a practice that has also allowed similar data on Americans to be accessed by police without a warrant (via Global News).
The big three Canadian telecom companies have reportedly been selling real-time location data on subscribers to a company called LocationSmart, which advertises itself as a service that “locates 15 billion devices anywhere in the world, for any location need”.
While the company says its location services are used by clients to buy access to its data target consumers based on their location, check the locations of workers such as truck drivers, and locate any connected device, it can certainly be used for more questionable tasks.
A prison technology company called Securus is now under fire after the New York Times alleged on May 10 it had shared location data obtained via LocationSmart with a sheriff’s office in Missouri that then used it to track people’s phones — without a warrant.
“We have noted the mention of Canadian carriers in the recent ZDNet article on LocationSmart. It does raise questions and we plan to follow up. I don’t have further details to share with you at this time”, said Privacy Commissioner’s spokesperson Valerie Lawton.
According to EnStream, their tracking programs are opt-out by default. Location data is not stored or maintained beyond the immediate, one-time validation the customer consented to, and because the location information is purely customer initiated for a specific purpose, once the information is confirmed, the data is then securely destroyed, according to company policy.
Update: Rogers said they were not actually contacted by Global News.
Telus did not respond to a request for comment but a spokesperson for Bell
Rogers said the location data in question is not directly shared by them.