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Microsoft refutes Windows Phone tracking claims

US: Microsoft issued a statement denying that Windows Phone 7 tracks smartphone owners without their express consent. The official statement follows the filing of a suit in the Seattle federal court last week alleging that the software giant was uploading user location information from Windows Phone 7 handsets to a remote server, despite users choosing to opt-out of location-based services in the device’s options.

The suit was backed by analysis from security researcher Samy Kamkar. “The Windows Mobile operating system is clearly sending information that can lead to accurate location information of the mobile device,” Kamkar wrote in the report which forms the heart of the legal filing, “regardless of whether the user allowed it.”

Microsoft is hardly the first company to be targeted over claims of user tracking: both Apple and Google have been accused of the same transgression, with the former currently on the hook for GBP 15.3 million in damages should a South Korean court find in favour of 27,000 iPhone users in an ongoing case.

Despite the claims that it doesn’t ‘track’ users per se, Microsoft’s statement has plenty of wiggle room: note, for example, that it fails to deny the transmission of location data as highlighted in Kamkar’s report.

Location-based services are proving big business: Microsoft itself has introduced a Windows Phone app which allows users to track each other’s location – with permission, naturally – when organising a group outing, while Sony will be including a geocaching-inspired metagame dubbed Near with its upcoming Vita console.

Source: thinq