Microsoft faces phone tracking lawsuit

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Microsoft's been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging that the Windows Phone 7 operating system tracks its users geographically without their permission.

Filed at the Western District of Washington District Court, the suit claims that Microsoft gathers and stores location-based information even when users have opted out of data sharing.

It says the reason is that Microsoft wants to create a targeted location-based advertising system.

According to the complaint, users are asked whether they want to share their location the first time the camera app is opened - but their answer is ignored, with the data collected either way.

"While Microsoft claims that users may opt-out of its location-tracking program, Microsoft has designed its mobile operating
software to track its users locations deceptively even after they affirmatively deny such consent," it reads.

"Regardless of the device model, Microsoft consciously designed its OS to siphon geographic location information from users and transmit their specific whereabouts to Microsoft’s servers."

What makes it even worse, says the lawsuit, is that Microsoft had specifically promised that it would do nothing of the sort.

"In April of 2011, leaders of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters to a number of developers of mobile device operating systems, including Microsoft, requesting information about how their software was designed to track and store users’ locations," reads the complaint.

"In its response to Congress’s inquiry, Microsoft unequivocally stated that the Windows Phone OS never collects geolocation data without the express consent of its users."

Back in April, Microsoft assured users that while its phones did collect location data, the feature could be turned off.