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back to article Windows phones send user location to Microsoft

Add Microsoft Windows Phone 7 to the list of mobile operating systems that silently transmit the precise physical location of the device back to a central database. CNET reported the location tracking on Monday, almost a week after reports of similar tracking in Apple's iPhone and Google's Android mobile OS raised concerns that …

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Anonymous Coward

Hm Hmm Hmmm...

This starts to look like some form of sealed law that requires handset makers to log the location...

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Re: Hm Hmm Hmmm...

Network operators are already required to maintain a log of your location data based on cell tower triangulation anyway. What would be the point?

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Boffin

Hmmm no.

No sealed law.

Its called trying to gain a competitive advantage.

All of the 3 are guilty of war driving when they monitor and report on broadcasted SSIDs.

Why? Because the SSIDs are broadcast-ed for a different purpose so that the 3 are actually committing an illegal wire tap.

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Black Helicopters

+1

I came here to suggest that this is looking spookier by the minute. Thats 3 for 4 on the newest phone OS. Anyone looked at webOS yet?

And there has been silence from the competition enforcers over NokiaSoft. Is it in big govt's interest to let the plan go through?

"once is misfortune, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action"

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Alert

Sealed law

I had suspected this from the beginning. If a law had been drafted that required everybody to carry a tracking device, the civil liberties people would have been up in arms immediately. Solution? Simple. Disguise the tracking device by adding various secondary functions e.g. telephone services, emphasize those secondary functions in the marketing spiel and bury the primary function in the small print. People will buy the device for the secondary functions alone and forget about - or not even ralise - the primary purpose of the device.

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Re: Hm Hmm Hmmm...

What would be the point of logging tracking data on to the phones themselves?

[Granted, Windows Phone doesn't do this, unlike the other two!]

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Big Brother

(Raises hand) Oooh! Oooh! Mr. Kotter!!

Well, there is this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/21/police_cellphone_searches/

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Ah...

I tend to leave my mobile at home. John Law must think I'm a shut-in.

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not required

So it's not really a 'mobile' as such then.........

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Coat

Terrorist!

Careful. Someone in France was arrested on suspicion of terrorist activities because they left their mobile behind when they went to a meeting. Aparently that kind of behaviour is not allowed! (Oh and someone else because they didn't actually HAVE a mobile phone - obvious terrorist!)

I guess I must be a really bad terrorist because I leave my mobile behind every day when I go into the clean rooms... Anon obviously.

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It's a matter of habit developing

If you establish "forgetting at home" as a habit it'll become less credible in court.

It is getting really ridiculous..

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Black Helicopters

Electronic Tag

So, anyone with one of these "smart" phones is voluntarily carrying around somrthing that is more or less equivalent to a a court assigned electronic tag.

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Big Brother

And furthermore ...

I predict that in 5 years time all mobile phones will have location services permanently enabled, in 10 years it will be obligatory to own and carry a mobile phone at all times, and in 20 years they will be implanted at birth.

They were just preparing the ground with the Telly Tubbies. The stomach mounted screen is the Authorities' console access.

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It's all about "marketing".

This entire atrocious abuse of privacy is marketers looking to push so-called "appropriate" advertising on people who don't need, nor want, the marketards opinion on whatever tat they are pushing.

Face it, marketards, you are now hated roughly as much as lawyers & politicians.

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Paris Hilton

marketards

>Face it, marketards, you are now hated roughly as much as lawyers & politicians.

And, like them, grossly overpaid compared to the contribution to society

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Anonymous Coward

er... when were they not?

see Bill Hicks

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Anonymous Coward

Windows phone7 will be an ad serving machine

The markwting sleeze said it! Even more reason to avoid it. The only opt-out will be to not own one.

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<title>

>And, like them, grossly overpaid compared to the contribution to society

Which has a negative sign (IMO).

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Grenade

First against the wall

when the revolution comes.

(we need an AK47 icon)

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Happy

First Against the Wall > Apple

You can include Google here aswell! lol - you choose who goes first. !

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Re: Windows phone7 will be an ad serving machine

And how is this different to Google's Android or Apple's iPhone?

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Troll

None at all

@ tzael Just opt-out by not carrying a sheeple phone

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Pint

All I can say

I'm damn glad none of this counts toward the paltry data limits imposed by our wireless network overlords... what's that? What do you mean this isn't free? You seem to imply those two bits are going to cost me two bits?!?!?! _Why those __dishonest__ bastards!!_

Frosty beverage because I damn well deserve one and [pick your "favorite" phone company] should be buying.

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Gates Horns

Personal information should BELONG to the PERSON

Having said that, I am NOT even the tiniest bit surprised that Microsoft does it, too. In Apple's case, I would have been shocked if they were not collecting any kind of personal data that can possibly be used to their advantage, since they have eclipsed Microsoft as the most aggressively evil company in the business--but profitable! Google? I was a tiny bit surprised. I knew they were going evil, but they've been relatively slow in the growth of their evilness.

Step 1. Incorporate as an American company operating under America's laws.

Step 2. Follow the laws, become EVIL.

Step 3. Profit!

A business is NOT in business to make profits, neo-GOP propaganda notwithstanding. A business is in business to stay in business. Of course excessive and sustained losses will put you out of business, but so will excessive and insanely cancerous growth. Remember Enron, anyone?

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Business profits

Shannon,

The very reason for a business to exist is as a money-making engine for its shareholders. In order to continue making money, it must trade. G00gle doesn't charge end-users directly so the money has to come from somewhere...

Even our Red friends in the East now recognise the benefits of economic growth and making money. HOW it is done is another matter entirely.

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WTF?

Surprised at Google???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! seriously?

Have you been away for some time?

Google is the biggest Privacy Violator in the World [tm] - didn't you know?! Why so surprised? I expected it from them and perhaps Apple.

I was surprised that MS didn't log tracking data on the actual hardware like the other two.

!

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Big Brother

Personal information should BELONG to the PERSON

You're right, I should NOT have been surprised at all. My tiny surprise must have been some sort of vestigial memory of the "Don't be evil" thing. Or maybe I was fantasizing that Google might believe in some of their own 'Android is open' propaganda?

(Yeah, I saw the other reply, but there was no thought there so no reply seems called for.)

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Oooo

Despite being paranoid, and currently stoned, my brainy brain brain thingy (we all have them, I'm reliably told), tells me that this one at least has another possible explanation.

Not wishing to defend microsoft, but signal strength and location data would be astoundingly useful in providing detailed coverage maps. Current maps are largely estimated.

Network operators could use the data to provide more masts where needed (there may be places where there are lots of people, but a poorer then expected signal strength). We'd all like that.

Microsoft could use publish the data themselves online, for us all to see. We'd all like that too.

The data will, of course, still be used for all the bad shit as well, which I'm dead against. Burn the bastards!!!

My brainy brain brain thingy can still type the keys! Look, no unintended spelling mistakes!

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Troll

Must use fire

If I recall correctly, trolls can only be killed using fire. Or was it acid?

Better just use both.

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Uh?

Wasn't it wooden stakes, silver bullets and sunlight? No?

Damn. Wrong reality. Can I leave this one then? Actually, any reality up and close with a leather clad Kate Beckinsale has my vote, but I digress :-).

Anyone seen my tablets?

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Black Helicopters

Earlier versions?

Anyone have the lowdown on WM6.5 or 6? Do these also contain spyware?

Never fancied 7 anyway because of its SD card encryption.

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Stop

Now just waiting for BlackBerry

I wonder what will happen when we find out that the government / the boss has been able to track the exact location of employees for years.

Companies (and government agencies) have gone with BBs largely because they are secure. Does location tracking count as "secure"?

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WTF?

Blackberry

The idea that blackberry devices are secure is a myth... Just read what the guy who exploited one at pwn2own said, they are obscure and proprietary but once you delve deeper you find they are actually less secure than other mobile platforms.

What they do have, is momentum (a few years ago they had no real competitors) and centralised control (ie you can control your employees phones from a central place)... But don't fall for the myth that blackberry devices are somehow more secure than other phones.

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Anonymous Coward

BBs are only secure..

.. if you are in control of the platform. Only some governments are - you are not. End of discussion.

Anything else I can help with? I used to be in legal intercept..

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Black Helicopters

I bet all the other smartphones do it too..

At this point I wouldn't be surprised. Also did anyone honestly expect *Microsoft* to be the goody goody?! I mean seriously.

Also I've long suspected that certain incredibly bloated OSes do much the same thing. Seriously, who expects a shiny desktop, media player, web browser and a driver layer to take up 15GB + of hard drive space; no matter how badly written. Oh, and free cell isn't gonna tip it either.

As a point of reference several Linux distros that do all the above PLUS an office suite, multimedia editing abilities and loads more functionality come in under 500MB. So why do some operating systems require 30X the install footprint?! What exactly is going on in there?!

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Gates Halo

Another none issue ....

So on Windows Phone 7 the transmission of location data:

Is switched off by default

Is easy to switch off in settings if it's on

Doesn't get saved to the SD card

Is fully documented saying what and why the location data is stored and how the users privacy is kept

https://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/howto/wp7/web/location-and-my-privacy.aspx

FFS, if you want a cinema near where you standing of course your location is going to get sent to MS...

To tar MS with the same Google/Apple brush over this is hardly fair, but so called journalism really has sunk this low....

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Re : Another none issue ....

"FFS, if you want a cinema near where you standing of course your location is going to get sent to MS..."

Why when I'm asking Google Maps ?

Also this is regular and persistant so if you switch Location services on and then never actually call on it then your location and related details are still sent to MS. Plus it's off by default at the moment, it's a trivial change to set it on by default.

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Google maps

not yet

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Gates Halo

Google and Apple are worse

In this instance, I would choose M$ over Google or Apple here.

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WTF?

Because it's easier...

...than every application having to have it's own database of cell tower/SSID identifiers.

WP7 uses cell towers to get a rough location, refines it using SSID's then refines further using GPS. This means it's quicker to get you results than by having to wait for a GPS lock every time. This is simply reports to whatever application is asking as Lat/Long/Accuracy.

The alternative is for every application to have to get cell tower and SSID's and transmit them to their own server for lookup, or have a database of every cell tower and SSID on your device.

Which alternative would you prefer?

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Gates Horns

@Sp1tf1r3 - you're forgetting something

Given the amount of utter BS Microsoft has spouted over the last, umm, 3 decades or so, are you really going to rely on something *they* publish for your feeling of comfort?

I don't believe anyone unless I see independent confirmation, least of all Microsoft. Their favourite sales trick is to conjure up figures and statements without any reference that allows you to confirm their validity, so thank you, but no thanks.

Not to tar MS with the brush it has created itself over the years would be bad journalism IMHO.

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Alert

...hated as much as lawyers and politicians?

Oh, much more than that, surely...

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@Neil Barnes

Adverbs have a purpose in the day-to-day life of people who use written (and sometimes spoken) English ... Surely "roughly" is good for an order of magnitude, or thereabouts?

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I don't get it....

Really, I don't. The MS phone tells you its going to do it. So why is this a suprise?

So now this media "storm in a tea cup" has happened, can well move along, knowing what we already knew....

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Big Brother

Storm in a tea cup exactly!

The whole point of this is to get it over with. None of us really want to think about how bad this is so we are glad when we learn;

1. It does not work very well

2. They tell you they are doing it

3. It has a reasonable purpose

4. It's turned off by default.

Having permanently learnt what a NON-STORY this is we will forget about it and never want the subject brought up again. When someone discovers in 18 months time that they are tracking us with live google streetview through webcams and CCTV we will all say, "heard it all before".

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Least worst of the three

At least that's what it seems, based on MS's explanation of how it works : doesn't store a local record, anonymizes location requests, only feeds locations back if user has turned the service on. All OK, then? I'd say 'yes', if you actually want location services (but of course such T's & C's can change under gov pressure). I'm still not happy about them using my AP as a node in their wifi map without my permission and without offering me at least a token payment to recognize the value (albeit small) of the service that my AP is providing to them.

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Hmm

>>> Add Microsoft Windows Phone 7 to the list of mobile operating systems that silently transmit the precise physical location of the device back to a central database.

Where's the evidence of each OS provider doing this? So far it appears only Microsoft are (predictably enough, for them) including a unique device ID - presumably you've seen some proof of Apple and Android also storing the device/owner ID in their database?

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RE: Hm Hmm Hmmm...

My n900 doesn't track me, so it doesn't look like it is a requirement...

(but my mobile operator still tracks me)

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Re : petur

My n900 also does not track me BUT Nokia have chosen MS as their future so that's a dead end now.... they want our data and they expect us to give it away for the "privilage" of buying a phone with their OS

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yes i know..

Thing is, I knew this already.. I allow my phone to submit my location to MS.. Its not new..

Why are people so arsey about it? It can be turned off.. Or turned on..

Its just for my ease so if I loose my phone.. And its still on I can track its location

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