Microsoft in Lawsuit Over Location Tracking in Windows Phone 7

Posted by at 9:49 am on September 1, 2011

Microsoft faced a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing it of violating privacy in Windows Phone 7‚Äč. The federal Seattle suit claims that the phone’s camera app marks the location over GPS even after the owner switches the feature off. The user, Rebecca Cousineau, further accused Microsoft of false testimony when it wrote Congress claiming that it only ever got location information with consent.

The lawsuit is intended as a class action and could see all Windows Phone 7 owners receive a payment from Microsoft if successful. Exact damages weren’t mentioned.

Microsoft hasn’t commented on the complaint but is expected to contest the accusations.

The lawsuit may prove a symbolic problem for Microsoft. Apple and Google have also been accused of collecting excess location data. Both, however, have either more explicitly outlined why they believe their location methods are permissions-based or have taken direct action. Apple released iOS 4.3.3 to cut back on the amount of data it collected and to better secure what was left. Google hasn’t changed its approach but does pop up a notice asking for permission any time it or an app developer needs location information.

US government officials have been increasingly scrutinizing the truth of the claims. A proposed Senate bill would make consent a matter of law rather than just a voluntary gesture.

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