Microsoft sued for tracking mobile users’ location without permission
Lawsuit claims that tech giant collects data about customers’ whereabouts even they have opted out of location tracking
Microsoft tracks the location of its mobile users even after customers turned the software off, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges.
The legal action claims that owners of Windows Phone 7 smartphonesare being unwittingly tracked when the camera on their phone is switched on.
The lawsuit, filed in a Seattle federal court, claims that Microsoft collects data about the whereabouts of its users even after customers have opted out of location tracking.
Microsoft declined to comment on Thursday morning.
The lawsuit follows mounting concern about how technology giants, including Apple and Google, record users’ private data. Microsoft, Nokia, Apple and Google were called before the US Congress in April to explain their privacy policies after security researchers uncovered hidden location-tracking software in iPhones. Google Android phones weresubsequently found to gather location data, but required users’ explicit permission.
The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft‘s letter to congress, which claimed that location data is collected “always with the express consent of the user”, was “false”.
The claim, filed by Rebecca Cousineau, says that Microsoft transmits data including coordinates of a customer’s location when the phone’s camera is switched on. According to the lawsuit, hidden tracking affects smartphones using Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software, such as the HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7.
Microsoft is understood to be preparing a response to the claims.
In its representation to US Congress in May, the Redmond, Washington-based company said that tracking users’ location helps “deliver more useful and relevant experiences to users”.
It adds: “To provide these rich experiences, Microsoft collects limited information necessary to determine the approximate location of a device. Collection is always with the express consent of the user and the goal of our collection is never to track where a specific device has been or is going.
“We believe that, when designed, deployed and managed responsibly, the location-based feature of a mobile operating system should function as a tool for the user and the applications he or she elects to use, and not as a means to generate a database of sensitive information that can enable a party to surreptitiously ‘track’ a user.”