A lawsuit, filed today in Seattle, alleges that Microsoft, through its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system and platform, tracks its users against their express wishes.
The crux of the issue stems from the camera application present on all WP7 handsets. According to the lawsuit, the camera app tracks and transmits data to Microsoft, even if the owner of the handset has opted out of any such sharing.
Microsoft previously told the American Congress that it will only collect such data if the user has given the company their consent. According to the lawsuit, that was a false statement. TNW Microsoft has a request for comment in with the company, and will update this post upon receiving its response.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Windows Phone 7 user. Who they are, and how they managed to uncover the alleged data transmission remain unknown. The suit seeks “injunction and punitive damages, among other remedies,” according to Reuters. This is a contentious issue, and was one that took center stage earlier this summer, as Apple and other technology giants were publicly castigated for collecting data from their users. The controversy had mostly died down until this lawsuit was filed.
The core of the issue is interesting. Microsoft claims to only collect geodata when a user provides permission. The lawsuit claims that even when denied such permission, the company does it anyway. That sounds, on the face of it, malicious. If the camera reporting function is a mistake, or is perhaps an accidental legacy artifact, might provide Microsoft some cover.
We will update this post as we learn more.
Update: Microsoft had no comment to share. If the company does release a statement, we will update this post here.