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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Microsoft Face Lawsuit

The issue of how large corporations are collecting and handling are data was once again thrown under the microscope after it was revealed Microsoft is facing a lawsuit after it was allegedly tracking its Windows 7 Phone operating system even after they had opted out.

The claims are that users of the Windows 7 Smartphone software are unknowingly being tracked whenever they turn their camera application on their phone on. The lawsuit action, which was filed in the Seattle Federal court, raises claims that Microsoft are continuing to collect the data about the location of the phone even after its users have opted out of the service.

Microsoft had not yet released a statement but are said to be preparing a response to the legal actions. Once again the actions of technology giants such as Microsoft, Apple and Google are being questioned. Apple and Google were brought before US Congress to explain their data and privacy policies after it was discovered tracking software was present in their phones. On that occasion Google Android phones were found to be collecting data, but only after the users of the phone gave their explicit permission; something that Microsoft has reportedly been failing to undertake, instead collecting data even after users have opted out of the tracking.

The lawsuit follows a letter to congress by Microsoft claiming that any data taken from the phone was always taken after permission was taken from the users. If the claims are proven then Microsoft would have to respond to congress again on why false information was provided in previous discussions.

The claim was filed by Rebecca Cousineau, who says that Microsoft collects and transmits data including the coordinates of the phones location when the camera is turned on. Reportedly affected are phones such as the HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7, which both carry the Windows Phone 7 software.

Earlier in the year in its representation to congress, Microsoft said that tracking its users’ location helped deliver a more useful and relevant experience to its users. It went on to say that “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.” And followed up by saying all the data gathered was not sensitive information and only be used as a tool for the user to aid their experiences.

It is still to be seen exactly how Microsoft will respond to the action, and just how far they have been pushing the boundaries with regards to tracking their users.

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