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Microsoft Defines Phone Location Tracking Policy

Recently I reported that Microsoft Windows Phone 7 only tracks your location if you specifically ask it to, and this data isn't stuck in a protected file as Apple and Android phone vendors do.

There is more to the story, at least according to Microsoft testimony given recently to Congress. Microsoft's location tracking system in Windows Phone 7 currently uses a device identifier that can be used to track a specific user's location. Microsoft says that feature will be removed in the next rev to Phone 7 software. Microsoft says that it "recently" stopped using these device identifiers, so it may have stated the situation accurately last week when I wrote my item.

The phones still store location information, relative to a Wi-Fi access point or cell tower, as part of the location service. Microsoft points that this method only tracks approximate locations. However, without the device identifier, individuals can't be specifically tracked, Microsoft claims.

I admit to still being confused due to the fact that one can still opt-in to be tracked, which is done through closeness to a cell tower, Wi-Fi hotspot or the GPS. I guess the difference is that precise locations are not tracked, one must opt in and the device must be identified with the user.

Posted by Doug Barney on 05/11/2011 at 1:18 PM


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