Technology: Lawsuit Alleges Microsoft Uses Secret Tracking

Camera in Windows Phone 7 allegedly reports geolocation when turned on

Camera in Windows Phone 7 allegedly reports geolocation when turned on

Software giant Microsoft is facing a lawsuit under the allegations that their mobile operating system tracks customer locations, even after they request that the tracking be turned off.

Tech Industry Under Scrutiny

The class-action lawsuit goes so far as to say that Microsoft intentionally designed its mobile camera software to keep location tracking on, despite customer requests to not be tracked.

These charges against Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 operating system come just as a frenzy of public concern regarding Apple’s tracking gaffe has died down. Concerns were that Apple’s iPhones were collecting location data and storing it for up to a year, even when location software was “off.” Apple has since issued a software patch to fix this problem.

Nonetheless, this string of incidences brings forth a renewed scrutiny for the technology industry and is stirring up debate across the United States about location tracking, consumer rights, and the right to personal privacy in an oversharing social media-dominated world.

Exploiting Data For Marketing Money

Earlier in the year, U.S. lawmakers accused the tech industry of making money off of their consumers’ use of location “check in” software, which allow social media users to tell their friends where they are. Microsoft is alleged to have the same motivation: exploiting location data for marketing purposes, all without first receiving the consent of the millions of Americans being tracked.

The lawsuit cites a letter that Microsoft sent to Congress, stating that it collects geo-location data only with the explicit consent of the user. “Microsoft’s representations to Congress were false,” the lawsuit says, and claims that Microsoft transmits data from mobiles while the camera application is on. This includes approximate latitude and longitude coordinates of the mobile at that moment, a sobering thought for many consumers who trust that their level of privacy and data sharing is consistent to what they have consented to.

The lawsuit seeks injunction and punitive damages for Windows Phone 7 users.

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