Microsoft's Live.com location map
Microsoft's Live.com location map

Microsoft has denied claims that it collects phone location data without permission.

The software giant is the subject of a lawsuit filed last week which claims that Microsoft’s camera software in Windows Phone 7 users location data without explicit authorisation from end users. The lawsuit was filed in a Seattle federal court last week, backed by analysis from a well known security researchers. Windows Phone 7 allegedly sends user location info to Microsoft’s inference.location.live.net even if a user says “no” when prompted by the mobile operating system.

Microsoft denies the claims and insists the company is investigating the accusations. “Microsoft is investigating the claims raised in the complaint,” explained a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement issued on Monday. “We take consumer privacy issues very seriously. Our objective was — and remains — to provide consumers with control over whether and how data used to determine the location of their devices are used, and we designed the Windows Phone operating system with this in mind.”

The Microsoft spokesperson also explained that the software maker does not store unique identifiers with any data transmitted to their location services database. “The data captured and stored on our location database cannot be correlated to a specific device or user,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “Any transmission of location data by the Windows Phone camera would not enable Microsoft to identify an individual or ‘track’ his or her movements.”

Microsoft has previously tweaked its location services in response to privacy fears. Microsoft implemented a change on July 30 to its geographic location positioning service. The change added improved filtering to validate requests so that the service would no longer return an inferred position when a single Media Access Control address is submitted. Users could previously retrace where a computer has been using its MAC address to query Microsoft’s location database.

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