Microsoft limits access to WIFi location database

Last Friday, it was revealed that Microsoft allowed anyone to access an online database where the company collected the locations of millions of WiFi devices along with Windows Phone 7 smartphones.

Now,, which first broke the story, has now revealed that Microsoft has decided to limit access to that location database. Until this weekend the database was able to be accessed by anyone via Microsoft's web site. Microsoft has previously claimed that it collects the location info for "search results, weather, movie times, maps and directions based on a device's current location."

In a statement to, a Microsoft representative admitted to the change in accessing the database, saying, "This change adds improved filtering to validate each request so that the service will no longer return an inferred position when a single Media Access Control address is submitted." It added, "Microsoft's commitment to privacy means that not only will we seek to build privacy into products, but we'll also engage with key stakeholders in government, industry, academia and public interest groups to develop more effective privacy and data protection measures. We will continue to update our service with improvements that benefit the consumer in both positioning accuracy as well as individual privacy."

Microsoft also said that the service could not "track a roaming mobile phone or laptop using its MAC address" previous to the database change, reported that their own experience with the database showed that statement to not be true. Microsoft has yet to comment on this allegation.

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