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Microsoft shares location data source code for review of Wi-Fi information harvesting

Jenny Williams

Microsoft is sharing source code used for location-based services to allow its collection of Wi-Fi access point data to be reviewed.

US authorities recently requested information from Microsoft about how its smartphones collected, used, stored and shared location data.

In a blog post, Reid Kuhn, partner group program manager in the Windows Phone engineering team at Microsoft, said the company uses vehicles, known as managed driving, to collect Wi-Fi access point data to provide location-based services on Windows Phone 7 devices, such as maps, weather reports and local search results.

Reid Kuhn confirmed the company does not collect information sent over a network, called payload data.

"Important for respecting consumer privacy, the software does not intercept wireless data transmissions from consumers' computers (so-called 'payload' data). The software neither observes nor records any information that may contain user content transmitted over a network," wrote Kuhn.

A US district court judge has ruled that Google could face wire-tapping charges following revelations in 2010 of its Wi-Fi network data harvesting activities.

Google admitted earlier this year that it mistakenly collected data sent over Wi-Fi networks using its Street View cars to gather images for the controversial Street View service.

Google later confirmed it had deleted all UK payload data collected by its Street View cars from unsecured British Wi-Fi networks.

In May 2011, the US Federal Trade Commission was reportedly considering taking action against Apple following revelations Apple collected geo-location data from iPhone users.


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