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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hm Hmm Hmmm...

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

    1. trarch

      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?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Go

        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!]

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          Big Brother

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

          Well, there is this:

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

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      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.

    3. Robert E A Harvey
      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"

    4. Blue eyed boy
      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.

  2. Reverend Brown

    Ah...

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

    1. Nigel Brown

      not required

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        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..

  3. William Wallace
    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.

    1. Ralph B
      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.

  4. jake Silver badge

    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.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      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

      1. Anomalous Cowlard

        <title>

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

        Which has a negative sign (IMO).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      er... when were they not?

      see Bill Hicks

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Tzael

        Re: Windows phone7 will be an ad serving machine

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Troll

          None at all

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

    4. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Grenade

      First against the wall

      when the revolution comes.

      (we need an AK47 icon)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        First Against the Wall > Apple

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

  5. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    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.

  6. Shannon Jacobs
    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?

    1. Arnold Lieberman

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      !

      1. Shannon Jacobs
        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.)

  7. brainwrong

    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!

    1. Chris 244
      Troll

      Must use fire

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

      Better just use both.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        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?

  8. C 2
    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?!

  9. Anteaus
    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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"?

    1. Joe Montana
      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  12. Monty Burns

    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....

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
      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".

  13. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Alert

    ...hated as much as lawyers and politicians?

    Oh, much more than that, surely...

    1. jake Silver badge

      @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?

  14. Sp1tf1r3
    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....

    1. TakeTheSkyRoad

      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.

      1. Matthew 25

        Google maps

        not yet

      2. Little Poppet
        Gates Halo

        Google and Apple are worse

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

      3. Unlucky
        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?

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      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.

  15. Bilgepipe

    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?

  16. tsimeone

    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

    1. Elmer Phud
      Headmaster

      Pedantry

      "Its just for my ease so if I loose my phone"

      You dropped it or it just slipped a bit?

    2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Maybe you get it

      The modern world has come as a bit of a shock to many people. However you seem comfortable with the changes since they offer you convenience.

      I must admit I love Google Street View. It seemed they did nothing wrong when they photographed everything from the street and published the pictures. Anyone can take photos in the street and publish the pictures. No law against it.

      The difference is when it's done on a massive scale outside of your control then it has even more massive implications. Clearly the WiFi logging done by Google is part of a bigger plan where it gets used as location tracking.

      DNA fingerprinting changed the world and this development in mobile phones changes the world some more. You know what they say, if you done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide.

      1. Graham Wilson
        Flame

        @Wayland Sothcott 1 - Perhaps. ...But it's still a matter of privacy.

        "You know what they say, if you done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide."

        May be so but that's not the point, it's the invasion of privacy for its own sake which is. You don't have to be doing unlawful things to feel your privacy has been violated. For example, that's why doors are placed on lavatories or why most people have sex in private. Having part of one's life in private is a human activity, it's what we humans do.

        Moreover, it's not only humans either. Cats if you stare at them will usually look away, I once looked after the friendliest of friendly cats but starting at it or when it saw the eye (lens) of a camera it would always look away--getting a good photograph of it was nigh on impossible.

        Privacy might be under attack, especially so in English-speaking countries such as the US, UK and Australia, but it's not dead yet--not by a long shot.

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Wayland Sothcott 1

          "You know what they say, if you done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide."

          "They" (and perhaps you) are missing something important ... "They" have doors to "their" toilets, right? And "they" don't have plate-glass exterior walls in "their" showers, right? Why not? What are "they" hiding?

  17. petur

    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)

    1. TakeTheSkyRoad

      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

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy to disable

    All you have to do is update Mobile 7: once bricked, your phone won't report anything anymore.

    So it was a feature, not a bug.

  19. Graham Wilson
    Flame

    Open-source the damn things.

    If these cretins continue this kind of behavior much longer then pressure from users will eventually force legislators to regulate open source for both firmware and software.

    Alternatively, if legislators fail to comply because they too want to track users (highly probable), then buyers should leave them in droves for open source equivalents.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Unhappy

      Umm

      Whilst I agree with every word you say

      What open source alternatives?

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        open source phone

        There was the OpenMoko - but that seems to be dieing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_moko

        1. Graham Wilson
          Happy

          @alain williams - May not die after these revelations.

          Interesting, I'll check it out.

          May not die after these revelations.

      2. Graham Wilson
        Pint

        Don't know of any yet but methinks this and similar iPod news will create demand.

        If there's a demand then sooner or later someone will develop one but I'd reckon we'd be unlikely to see any results for 5 years or so.

        As the mobile/cell phone o/s monopoly (unlike Windows) is already broken, it should be easier for bit players to enter what will be initially a niche market.

        (I hope so anyway.)

  20. OrchardRot
    Terminator

    Unpaid google street cars?

    With all these smart phones logging local wi-fi information against geographical location, one conclusion is that Apple, Google and Microsoft are using their customers as an unpaid equivalent to a Google Street car. When someone uses these hotspots they then know the exact location of that hotspot for serving local advertisements etc. to its consumers.

  21. rcdicky
    Alert

    Does it really make a difference?

    Ok, so we know they're all up to it in one form or another

    I've yet to see any adverse effects from it, despite having an iPhone now and an Android in the past

    Maybe I'm missing something but I'm not really that fussed

  22. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    Stop

    Roaming?

    Given that I was charged 1.50€ a time when I used GPS when roaming (A-GPS uses the data connection), does this mean a 1.50€ charge each time a Windows Mobile 7 user moves and the phone transmits the new location to MS?

    1. MN
      WTF?

      Yes

      It will, assuming you're daft enough to not disable data when roaming via the toggle under settlings->mobile network->data roaming.

      If you are that daft, I should probably add that there are 2 choices - 'don't roam' or 'roam'. 'don't roam' is the one you want.

  23. Fred 24

    + other data?

    Judging by the volume of data wp7 sends I very much doubt its soley location data being sent.

  24. James 51

    We've got an eye on you

    I was about to ask if this was built into symbian, maemo or meego. Did Nokia know about this before they decided to buy into WP7.

  25. Tim #3

    So

    What about the Data Protection act? Does it apply to such data and if so does MS have reason to collect and store it?

    1. dogged
      Boffin

      DPA

      is not applicable as no name, address or other personally identifying data are stored.

      The case of the police surruptitiously rifling through iPhones would be in contravention of the DPA but of course, they'll never admit to that.

  26. Gnomalarta
    Black Helicopters

    If you see a worm on a hook there's proably a fisherman involved.

    I use my mobile much like a land line - it even cost about the same, £19 PAYG with £10 credit. When I need to make a call I switch it on - this is handy as I can check to see if anyone has tried to contact me. Afterwards I switch it off. I really can't remember why I bought the thing, 99.999 of life is non-urgent and/or utterly trivial.

    If a person wishes to waste tons of dosh on a mobile tracking advertising medium maybe they should be watching said person!

    1. Graham Wilson
      Big Brother

      Can anyone tell me why one cannot switch off mobile/cell phones instantly?

      I used to have an old GSM Nokia phone that had a detachable battery at the rear. The battery was detached by pushing a button on the battery which would release the locking catch and it would just slide off the plastic retaining runners (this made changing batteries a breeze).

      If the phone needed to be switched off in a hurry (ringing in a meeting etc.) it was convenience personified, all I had to do was to reach into my pocket push the button release and slide it with my thumb about 1/8". The battery would detach from the supply contacts and the phone would be totally dead. To power up again, push-click and hit "on".

      You can no longer do this in any modern phone that I know of, it's as if the manufactures/Telcos want you to log off only by the power button (which seems to take forever whilst it rings home and fucks around with housekeeping ('tis now the same crap procedure as powering down a PC or other possessor-based appliances with 'soft' power switches).

      Does anyone know if this is part of the agenda to keep the phone logged on all the time? With making the phone so hard to switch off it would certainly seem so.

      (BTW, I now overcome this problem on modern phones by placing a piece of thin bouquet-like ribbon under the battery and leaving the back off the phone. Just tug the ribbon and the phone's instantly dead. Sorry iPhoners and those who've sealed phones, lemming like you'll have to obey your masters.)

      1. Ralph B
        Boffin

        Signalling

        > Does anyone know if this is part of the agenda to keep the phone logged on all the time?

        No. More like helping out the GSM protocols by clearly signalling your absence from coverage, rather than relying on bandwidth-wasteful timeout/retry mechanisms to work out where and if you are currently located.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh For the Sake of Fuck

    You ask for location based services (where's the nearest petrol station, google location search, Sat Nav, having the area code pop up on screen [if people still do that!]) and then you moan when you find that some location based data is passed to the people who run the OS...Big surprise there isn't it *rolls eyes*

    1. Anteaus
      Thumb Down

      Missing the point I think..

      AFAIUI these phones track your movements whilst NO nav or mapping software is running.

      It might also be compared with the fact that a phone transmits your speech to the carrier when off-hook. This is an unavoidable part of its working. But, if it also did so ON-hook, I would start to wonder what the h*ck was going on, and why.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    I don't care...

    My first thoughts when I saw the iPhone tracking was that I bet they all do it in some capacity or another... and I was right, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Symbian, WebOS, Maemo/Meego, Bada etc did it as well.

    Why? It's because they want to know what kind of experience their customers are getting with connectivity, where they are going etc, so they can make phones to better fit the customer's needs and thus sell more phones than the competition. Shocking eh? *Newsflash* Company does things to get competitive advantage!! It's not spying, it's not the government (although police might find it useful, in which case stop being a crim), there is no conspiracy, it's just pure business.

    And you know what I don't give a monkey's if some megacorp knows where I was when, they aren't stalking me I will just be incorporated into statistics... I'm not a terrorist, a criminal, a spy, in witness protection or anything - so what do I care? It isn't actually ever going to harm me in any way.

    Of course if I did have reason to hide I wouldn't be using a smartphone, I'd have a very basic £5 anonymous/fakename PAYG that I dumped in a public bin everytime the credit ran out - you know like real spys in hollywood.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Sealed law" BS

    Hardly any need for any "sealed law" requiring phones track you. Someone in the position to pass such a law can already track you by going to the Telco and asking for your phones' location. Added bonus that this already works on 100% of all phones and has been in use for decades.

    1. Matthew 25

      except

      when its switched off

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Telco's info

      Yes, the main difference being that when the police suspect me of a crime, they can get my location data through a court order from my telco... whereas the builder of my smart phone can get it by running a script.

      Also, when the police get my data they will use it to prosecute me for the crime they suspect me of. Whereas the builder of my smart phone will use it to assemble behaviour patterns that can be used for things I neither need or want.

      You see? If I where a criminal I'd have to fear the government as they can 'spy' on me if I where dumb enough to bring my phone to a crime scene. Whereas if I'm not a criminal I'm spied upon by Big Corporations. Everywhere. All the time.

      And what do we get in return?

      Well, the criminals among us may get what's coming to them. But the innocent smart phone users? They get targeted advertising at best. May I decline?

      It's not so much Big Brother as it's a Brave New World. AC for irony.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    News?

    I think the difference is that WP7 users are informed about it on their mobiles and more importantly they can switch it off!

  31. Wize

    Now we know they do it...

    ...and in some cases we know the files they use to help them do it...

    How about a nice little app or two filling their database with fake SSIDs/Mac addresses and cell towers. Once the data is useless, they will stop trying to collect it.

  32. g e

    Cell Tracking Schmell Tracking

    Cell tower tracking is a non-issue, that can be done via the carrier's network anyway.

    Wifi tracking is a bit different though, I wonder if when you 'forget' a wifi network your Android phone spotted if it's deleted from the DB. Would be interesting to know, as ostensibly that list is for keeping a list of wifi networks.

    I notice no-one said Android keeps your GPS location, just cell & wifi. Is that fact?

    As for MS phoning that data home. THAT is worse than Crapple's DB imho as it's potentially infinite in history and you don't get to delete it.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Would all those frothing at the mouth please move on

    1. The phone does not store the info, unlike Android (short period) or IOS (ridiculously long period.

    2. The phone does not transmit the information unless LOCATION SERVICES ARE TURNED ON ! This is not the same as using satnav software, its when you have requested local information (pubs, petrol stations, Macky D's etc.). Its hard to see how these services can be provided with up to date info without sending your location.

    Jeez, biggest non story for a long time.

  34. Mondo the Magnificent

    No big deal about MS doing it!

    I see that the fact MS are keeping track of this data doen't quite enjoy the sensationalist headlines ant "hate posts" that Apple 'enjoyed' when the fact they hoard this data was made public last week.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Marketing, Searching and Big Brother

    It won't be just marketing, it will be targeted local marketing.

    Why see ads for a stores ten, hundreds or thousands of miles away when it can show you ads for stores within 1, 2, 5, etc miles of your location.

    And for Search, could put in search for a taxi and it will list the ones just round the corner.

    As for the Big Brother stuff... plenty of that in the comments

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err...

    Is this the location tracking that the phone asks you about when you initially set it up, also switched off after initial setup under settings->feedback, or is it the tracking under settings->find my phone. If it's either of these, I don't see a problem - it asks you about them as you set up the phone, if it is another method of tracking I'd be rather more concerned.

    Is anyone able to clarify?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Is this a surprise?

    Oh dear for M$... Well at least, they haven't trawled the depths of Apple and Google's conduct by actually logging data onto the handset.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    choose the least worse out of 3 evils

    So it comes down to choose the least worse out of 3 evils. I'm an honest person that isn't afraid of warrants to get my location. I assume you'll need a warrant to get this data from Microsoft. At least like this when my gf or whatever gets a hold of my phone for 2 sec while I'm in the bathroom doesn't grab all my location data. We all know that sometimes a few harmless lies go a long way for peace. Apple and google just give our other halfs ammo and stupid reasons for jealousy.

    So the next smartphone I buy will be a windows phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why is a title required?

      lol, she's going to find out about the golf sooner or later, may as well just tell her rather than buy a new smartphone... and you could spend the money you saved on new clubs :D

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    free your phone

    When will it be illegal to switch off such features?

    "The .. DMCA .. criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

    1. Graham Wilson
      Grenade

      @Anonymous Coward - Exactly and when will it be illegal to switch it off?

      If the log file was obfuscated by a compilation process and the user disassembled the log then the act would almost certainly be illegal under the DMCA.

      As I said above in an earlier post, switching off mobile phones is becoming harder and harder the effect being that people leave them switched on all the time. The logical extent of this is that if a phone manufacturer came out with a phone that you couldn't switch off and you tampered with it so you could then you'd be in breach of the DMCA too.

      This might sound alarmist but there's precedents in the digital watch (where's the on/off switch on yours?). Moreover, try to remove a battery from an iPhone and you'll realize that it's pretty much integrated as part of the design. It's not out of the bounds of possibility that modifying such an integrated design or altering its circuit could be considered a violation of the DMCA. (After all modifying, altering or adding a switch isn't all that dissimilar to altering the on/off code in an ROM/EPROM which is forbidden by the DMCA, thus modifying any integrated package may be fair game for the rights holders.

      If such an argument/extrapolation were to be made and the DMCA extended in this way by the courts then it would have serious ramifications for the electronics service industry, hobbyists and perhaps even scrap merchants who salvage parts from old machines.

  40. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    At least it's in TOS

    No Microsoft fan, but at least they apparently put this relatively clearly into their TOS. I'd really like to know how this is used though.

    Locating wireless access points? Frankly, I don't give a toss. This is a useful functionality, so if you are using location based services, your phone can locate itself without GPS being on, saving you battery power.

    But, if location + unique ID are sent, how long are they stored? The unique ID *could* be stripped immediately. They could keep a few data points as a "sanity check", to make sure the phone is not faulty and claiming it's jumping all over the planet. On the other end of the spectrum, they could be keeping every data point forever.

  41. FreeTard

    Surely you cannot count google in this..

    As the option is there, clear as day in both the initial setup on a few droids I have used, and simples to disable if you decide to opt out afterwards.

    This htc desire asks during initial boot up / or launching the settings icon - ocation services, or just re-running setup again.

    Users tend to struggle to find likewise in windows phones, but I've not checked for ios recently.

    Yes clueless users enable these things deliberately, so maybe a point there.

    However even a clueless user is given the option...

  42. lookingsideways

    A-GPS

    So all of a sudden someone has realised how A-GPS works and spun it into a huge story?

    I'm really not seeing why there is such an issue here. On top of the (non-)story it looks like the only thing that'll come from it is worse GPS performance for those who travel a lot due to data not being kept around.

  43. SpitefulGOD
    Jobs Horns

    well durrr

    Maybe turning off the "find my phone" location service will sort out the tin hat paranoids? Seeing as that's the option you seem to be discussing.

  44. OziWan
    FAIL

    Stunned again

    This is standard behaviour - noone is tracking you guys! Apple and Google cache the mast locations so, everytime you hit a new mast it will store it. So your home mast will be in there, the ones on your trip to work also etc., but you *cannot* use this data to track people's movements, only where they may have been in the past. I have not read the article on the 'doze phones but I am quite certain it will be the same. This is how GPS works. Dan - come on dude!!

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