Microsoft is the latest victim of a lawsuit for having allegedly tracked the locations of its mobile customers without asking for their permission, after Apple was the target of a similar complaint in South Korea a couple of weeks ago. These cases have led to widespread concern over wireless privacy issues around the world.
A class action suit, which was filed in a Seattle federal court on Wednesday on behalf of a user of a Windows Phone 7 device, has claimed that the Microsoft mobile platform has camera software which ignores the requests of its customers to not track their location.
According to the lawsuit, a letter was sent by Microsoft to the Congress some time ago this year, insisting that the software only collects the concerned information after getting consent from the users. However, the litigation has claimed that the representations of Microsoft were false as the platform transmits location data, which includes longitude and latitude, whenever the camera app is activated by the customers.
This class action lawsuit has come only a couple of days after the software giant based in Redmond, Washington stated that it had improved its location filtering services so that the laptops and phones did not any longer return the exact locations. The security update from Microsoft had come after a report released by a research firm based in Stanford had claimed that Wi-Fi data which pointed the past locations of people was stored in the Windows devices. The report concerned the MAC address, which is a unique ID that every Wi-Fi device has and which could be tracked by the previous software.
It is known that the data collection policies followed by Microsoft are markedly different from those used by its rivals such as Google and Apple. Earlier this year, Apple was sued by a number of its South Korean customers for having recorded the positions of its iPads and iPhones on an unencrypted file on the device which stored around a yearlong location data of the users even after the tracking services had been explicitly disabled.
Even the Android platform of Google tracks user’s location information; however, it only records a few of the last updated locations. Microsoft has, on the other hand, claimed that only those apps on its platform which the users have authorized collect location data, and even then the data is not stored on the device so there is no danger of it falling into the wrong hands in cases of hacking.