A class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal district court in Washington state accuses Microsoft of intentionally tracking the movements of those using Windows Phone 7 mobile devices despite the users’ privacy settings.
“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,” claims the lawsuit filed by Seattle firm Tousley Brain Stephens.
Microsoft declined to comment Thursday.
The lawsuit says that the Camera application on phones running Windows Phone 7 asks users whether to allow it to use their location. But even while this prompt is being displayed, and even if the user hits “cancel,” the phone intermittently sends location information to a domain owned by Microsoft, the suit claims.
Declan McCullagh at CNET notes that the privacy issue “may not be huge: for one thing, there’s no evidence even a single customer was harmed as a result. Second, turning off location services completely (through the phone’s global settings option) should disable any transmission of geolocation data to Microsoft. Like Google, Apple, and Skyhook Wireless, Microsoft is assembling a crowdsourced database using what customers’ phones can see. On the other hand, if he’s right, Microsoft would be violating its own privacy pledges to customers.”