Lawsuit claims Microsoft tracks Windows Phone 7 users

A new lawsuit filed this week claims that smartphones that have Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system installed track the location of those phone's owners. As Reuters reports, the lawsuit claims that the tracking continues even if users have chosen not to have this feature turned on. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Seattle on Wednesday on behalf of Windows Phone 7 user Rebecca Cousineau.

The class action lawsuit centers on the camera software in the operating system. It claims that when the camera application is turned on, the operating system then sends out the latitude and longitude coordinates of the phone to Microsoft. News.com reports that the law firm handling the case hired a security researcher who found that the phones sent the location info to Microsoft's inference.location.live.net. This happens even if the phone's user chooses not to send that information to the company.

The lawsuit also claims that Microsoft, in a letter sent to members of the US Congress in May, said it only collects location data of its phone users with their consent. The lawsuit says bluntly, "Microsoft's representations to Congress were false."

The lawsuit is looking for an injunction against Microsoft along with punitive damages. So far Microsoft has yet to respond to the lawsuit. The litigation is being filed just as Microsoft is about to release the next version of its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 7.5, along with new phones that will support the update.

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20 Comments

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If you really think no one is tracking you then you are the stupid one. Little by little, you have zero privacy if you want all the nice benefits. TPTB don't call it the World Wide Wiretap for nothing.

These are the type of people who shouldnt use smartphones, because they are simply to stupid to understand them and how they work.

She is claiming that even after saying no, the device is still sending location data to MS. How can she prove that?

If you dont want your device to use ANY location services, you need to disable location services for the device. When you do that, no application will have access to the service unless you specifically tell it yes. If your device does otherwise then yes its a problem bec u told it no. However we dont what she really did and test will likely show its user error, as usual with Windows.

My guess is that the camera application makes the GPS call to refine the location to store with the picture. There is probably a bug that the app still makes the call even if the user has requested not to save the GPS info with he picture and the phone just throws out the information it gets back.

That still doesn't mean MS is saving the data. I would, however, be interested to find out if that call is still made if the location services on the phone are turned off. The lawsuit doesn't mention anything about the phone settings for location information. It seems to me that they misinterpreted the meaning of the setting. But, we still need more info to figure out what's really going on.

Oops, this was supposed to be a reply to the post from neo158 replying to my earlier post.

LarryW said,
My guess is that the camera application makes the GPS call to refine the location to store with the picture. There is probably a bug that the app still makes the call even if the user has requested not to save the GPS info with he picture and the phone just throws out the information it gets back.

That still doesn't mean MS is saving the data. I would, however, be interested to find out if that call is still made if the location services on the phone are turned off. The lawsuit doesn't mention anything about the phone settings for location information. It seems to me that they misinterpreted the meaning of the setting. But, we still need more info to figure out what's really going on.

Oops, this was supposed to be a reply to the post from neo158 replying to my earlier post.

Although they would still have to prove that the data is stored by Microsoft in order for "Microsoft's representations to Congress were false." to be true.

People just need to learn how to use their phones. And how would she know what the device is doing? is she that tech savvy? I mean...really. Whats up with people trying to get free rides.

TechieXP said,
People just need to learn how to use their phones. And how would she know what the device is doing? is she that tech savvy? I mean...really. Whats up with people trying to get free rides.

They hired a security researcher... >.>

Zedox said,

They hired a security researcher... >.>


Security researcher probably doesn't really know that they're doing.

TechieXP said,
People just need to learn how to use their phones. And how would she know what the device is doing? is she that tech savvy? I mean...really. Whats up with people trying to get free rides.

It was probably a gunshot approach. She figured Apple and Android were in the news over this but not WP7 so she could sue WP7 and hope something sticks...

The camera application asks you if you want to save your GPS information with the picture. Location service settings are on the settings screen. The lawsuit claims that the device sends GPS information to a MS server even though she turned off the GPS feature of the camera.

However, I haven't seen anywhere where they mention if they turned of location services for the phone. It is quite possible that the act of taking a picture on the phone triggers a location update but still doesn't save the information with the photo (that doesn't seem to be the issue).

We need to get a lot more information about this before making any judgment if this is real problem.

LarryW said,
The camera application asks you if you want to save your GPS information with the picture. Location service settings are on the settings screen. The lawsuit claims that the device sends GPS information to a MS server even though she turned off the GPS feature of the camera.

However, I haven't seen anywhere where they mention if they turned of location services for the phone. It is quite possible that the act of taking a picture on the phone triggers a location update but still doesn't save the information with the photo (that doesn't seem to be the issue).

We need to get a lot more information about this before making any judgment if this is real problem.

Surely they would have to prove that Microsoft is storing the data they recieve though, wouldn't they?

From what I can gather Apple got in trouble for storing the location data they recieved, which is something that Microsoft proved they aren't doing.

neo158 said,

Surely they would have to prove that Microsoft is storing the data they recieve though, wouldn't they?


I would think so. Even if it is bouncing off a Microsoft server, they aren't storing it. So the claim that they are "tracking" you is completely false.

rfirth said,

I would think so. Even if it is bouncing off a Microsoft server, they aren't storing it. So the claim that they are "tracking" you is completely false.

Exactly. All this is is a money grab.

KavazovAngel said,
This is probably related to the 'Include location information in pictures you take' and 'auto upload to SkyDrive' options...

?

Exactly, if she took the time to get to know her phone a little more then maybe this **** wouldn't happen.

I think she needs to RTFM!!!

neo158 said,

Exactly, if she took the time to get to know her phone a little more then maybe this **** wouldn't happen.

I think she needs to RTFM!!!

+1

Of course it would send the location data to geotag the photos, how else will it get that information. The location services option is only for applications you've specifically granted access to get your current location, I can't remember if the camera software asks that question though.

There's even options under Settings>Application pivot>pictures & camera to disable this so I don't see this lawsuit going anywhere.

SharpGreen said,
Heaven forbid you actually file a bug report. Greedy b****.

+1. I really can't stand people like this. They do it just to get money.