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Lawsuit Claims Windows Phone 7 Spies On Users 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-looking-at-me dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Microsoft wants to emulate the success of the iPhone, but they probably didn't want to follow in Apple's footsteps this way: a class action lawsuit claims that Windows Phone 7 is collecting location data on users, even when they request that it stop. But a look at the internals shows that Microsoft might not be acting as Big Brother-ish as it appears."
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Lawsuit Claims Windows Phone 7 Spies On Users

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  • Really? (Score:4, Funny)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday September 01, 2011 @07:59PM (#37281416) Journal
    Both of them?
    • I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrEricSir (398214)

      ...that the "7" in Windows Phone 7 referred to the number of users?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's much more secure and it's not Microsoft.
    • Ummm... it's what?!?!?!? Do you seriously have enough experience with both platforms to make such a judgement?

      What part of this article was about security? What kind of security are you talking about?

      Blackberry is a Java based phone. If you find ANY opening in it that would allow you to alter the class loader code, it's all tits to the wind after that. You could insert viruses all over that. Oh and given the crap quality of the app store, it seems like it's probably REALLY easy to get an app on the device w
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Blackberry benefits from marketing and obscurity causing people to *think* its secure, just look at the comments made by the guy who successfully exploited a blackberry in the recent pwn2own contest.

        Windows phone 7 likely benefits from the same obscurity at the moment...

        iPhone is more of a target right now because they're desirable handsets, whereas windows phone 7 is largely undesirable and blackberry is considered boring and unfashionable, being associated with business and in some cases kids (who only us

      • You sound like gp personally insulted you. He didn't. . For the record, in over a decade no such hole has been found - the closest example was a quickly patched exploit in the non-java webkit browser. Considering the historical and current userbase size for of bb device, you can be sure that it's not for lack of trying.

        As far as malicious apps - well yeah. It's trivially easy to do that on any patform,because then you're exploiti g the user and not the platform. In order for a platform to be useful, it m

        • The #1 security problem with any device is the user. And therefore, my point stands... Windows, iPhone, Blackberry, etc... are all insanely shitty regarding security.

          As for the lack of trying issue here... let's say that I would never consider a hacker a threat that tries to do anything other than using the weakest link in security.

          I did take offense to the GP... for years I've been complaining about people making ridiculous false statements about security based on stupid little things like "Well, no one ha
    • Yeah those blackberries you can pwn by serving them a malformed image through the browser. Those blackberries that are wiretapped by half the governments on the planet.

      They're very secure on paper, I'll give them that.

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday September 01, 2011 @08:16PM (#37281566)
    This reveals a lot about Microsoft. Already, people who have a Windows Phone 7 are neither iPhone nor Android users. They're already suffering enough and Microsoft has to pile on the indignity of stealing their measly data. Microsoft must know everything there is to know about the 536 people--worldwide--who bought the Windows Phone 7.
    Bet the same people invested heavily in Silverlight...
    • What's wrong with Silverlight? Do you prefer Swing?
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        what friggin phone can you use swing with? none.
        eswt on the other hand, that at least you can use on a few phones.
        java on the other hand, with whatever ui kits, you can use on many, many phones. but that's not the point. point with wp7 is being constrained to a feature phone like development, even windows ce mobiles were more interesting from developer perspective.

        but that wouldn't be so bad either, except that it's coupled to being really feature phone like in the sense that your threads get killed no matt

        • I don't know what eswt is and comparing silverlight to java doesn't make sense. Alot of what you wrote doesn't make sense, friggen.
      • I don't know how to break it to you, ol' chap, but Silverlight is dead. Microsoft won't even eat its own dog food but it expects you to get excited about it. Silverlight is dead. Move on.
        • Sometimes I wish it would, I'd like to get back to doing ASP.NET MVC development because I enjoy it more but the demand for SL has been nuts. As an Indy I'll do whatever.
  • Smartphone, dumbphone, anyphone - if it's connected, SOMEONE (OS vendor, Carrier, Sowtware) is logging activity & location. At a minimum the cell signal is triangulated to get your location. "to provide better service" meh.

    If you don't like it, don't use 'em.

    • Re:They all do it! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Smallpond (221300) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @09:45PM (#37282016) Homepage Journal

      Smartphone, dumbphone, anyphone - if it's connected, SOMEONE (OS vendor, Carrier, Sowtware) is logging activity & location. At a minimum the cell signal is triangulated to get your location. "to provide better service" meh.

      If you don't like it, don't use 'em.

      Umm. Yes, the phone company has to know where you are. Now please explain why the folks who made the phone need to know?

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Umm. Yes, the phone company has to know where you are. Now please explain why the folks who made the phone need to know?

        Probably because they are the ones you go to when you lose your phone and want to use their service to find it, pretty hard for them to do that if they don't know where it is hmmm?

        • Hahaha how many mobile OS companies offer this service?

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            Hahaha how many mobile OS companies offer this service?

            Why does that matter? If they offer that service then obviously they need that location, how hard is that to understand?

            • My point was that none of these providers (as far as I can tell) offer this service out of the box - but they all collect location data out of the box.

              • by exomondo (1725132)

                My point was that none of these providers (as far as I can tell) offer this service out of the box - but they all collect location data out of the box.

                Given that WP7 is the context of this story i would have thought that would be the first place you would look, and if you did look then you didn't look very hard.

      • by mevets (322601)

        Try an experiment:
          turn your phone off (off, off) when you are travelling somewhere.
          When you reach where ever, turn your phone on and attempt to find something around you. How long does it take?
        Look at some over your other 'location dependent' apps, and try the same thing. Notice taking pictures takes longer?
        Tempest in a teapot, and as much as I'd like to jump to the defence of those poor 7 windows phone users, there is likely nothing nefarious here.

    • At a minimum the cell signal is triangulated to get your location. "to provide better service" meh.

      Not in this case, this particular data set is being kept away from the carriers, and was only being sent to Microsoft Servers.

      If you don't like it, don't use 'em.

      Or we could just sue for them lying to us. Personally, I don't mind them collecting the data. It's the lying about it that bothers me. And if you live in the US, and don't like other people suing, you could just move away.

  • either the government or the fatcat corporate types in this modern-day fascist Corporatocracy [wikipedia.org]
  • And they're telling everyone! Everywhere! Just now, I checked in with them, you're in the bathroom slashdotting! They told me so, and G+ says you're low on toilet paper! OH NOES!!! on a lighter note, only a silly person thinks they're getting location data for free from a service which isn't also recording that location data. How do you think they fund the service?
  • What's he testing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by exomondo (1725132) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @08:59PM (#37281790)
    He concluded that "the Windows Mobile operating system is clearly sending information that can lead to accurate location information of the mobile device regardless of whether the user allowed the Camera application to share location information or not."

    Is he testing Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7? I RTFA and the linked articles and can't seem to find the testing methodology or any documentation.

    And wouldn't you want that accurate location information to be sent if you were using the Find My Phone thing (just like you would with Apple's Find My iPhone):
    Microsoft's "Find My Phone," meanwhile, only keeps the device's most recent location, the company said.

    Of course you have to trust that the company is only keeping the most recent location but that's the case with all providers.
    • ...
      Of course you have to trust that the company is only keeping the most recent location but that's the case with all providers.

      Hear, hear. You're dead-on. I listen to the police radio traffic where I live and actually got to hear a dispatch the other night where they were actively using it over the radio (the dispatcher was communicating with the mobile provider over the phone).

      Anyone wanna know how they do it? First, there's GPS that makes it more specific and easy to find your location, but if you disable that they use triangulation (Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_tracking [wikipedia.org])

      So really it's a dead-middle point (

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Follow in Apple's footsteps"? If you want to compare them to someone, pick Google, the biggest privacy violator in this market. Even after Apple stopped crowdsourcing location information, Google is still using it to track Android users. There is a reason they spend millions of dollars to develop Android, and it's not benevolent.

    I guess I shouldn't expect more from the /. crowd. You guys still believe the "Don't Be Evil" line from 10 years ago.

  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday September 01, 2011 @09:53PM (#37282064) Homepage

    I've had a Windows Phone 7 device since day one, and it asks at every turn before doing something that would collect location (or any other) data. If it's true and not just a misconfigured device or data being poorly interpreted, I'd be surprised if it was intentional.

    But, I know I know. Always assume the worst yada yada. Microsoft is evil, right?

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      Expect a few hilarious "You and (lololo) the OTHER WP7 phone user (lololol/smirk)" comments to follow your comments. Personally I hope WP7 takes off just to wipe the smug, knowing grins off their stupid faces.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It asks you if its ok to send the data, then it sends the data anyway with a flag saying not to use it.

      http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20057329-281.html

      "Windows Phone 7, supported by manufacturers including Dell, HTC, LG, Nokia, and Samsung, transmits to Microsoft a miniature data dump including a unique device ID, details about nearby Wi-Fi networks, and the phone's GPS-derived exact latitude and longitude."

      "Microsoft says that in the case of Windows Phone 7, location information is transmitted to its se

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Microsoft says that in the case of Windows Phone 7, location information is transmitted to its servers only if Wi-Fi and location services are turned on. It also points out it offers a global switch to turn off all location-based services"

        So if you have WiFi on and GPS on, then it's sending your location details to Microsoft HQ with or without your permission.

        Are you hard of reading? Or just plain retarded? If you turn off location-based services you no longer grant permission and it no longer transmits location data, very simple.

    • But, I know I know. Always assume the worst yada yada. Microsoft is evil, right?

      Not necessarily. But without a complete set of facts one must make an assumption. An assumption is based on what we know and what is likely to have happened. What I know as a non-WP7 users is that Microsoft is being sued, that Microsoft is supposedly spying on consumers, that they are competitors to a company who make it their business to spy on consumers, and that the way they treat their users typically is nothing short of contempt.

      The logical assumption is yes, Microsoft is evil and is spying. If this is

      • Re:Evil (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nstlgc (945418) on Friday September 02, 2011 @02:59AM (#37283378)
        But without a complete set of facts one must make an assumption.
        No, without a complete set of facts, you go looking for a complete set of facts. Making assumptions is what everybody expects you to do, and it leads to people only feeding you partial information in an attempt to guide you towards a specific assumption.
        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Unfortunately unless you work as a programmer for Microsoft's WP7's customer data stealing department you can never truly get a complete set of facts. There are assumptions and trusting others involved in every step of the way.

          Sure with more facts the assumptions are lower, but don't pretend you don't make one, even if the only assumption you make is that the person who has all the facts is telling you the truth.

          Plus I have better things to do then investigative journalism for every Microsoft is Evil (tm) c

          • by nstlgc (945418)
            Unfortunately unless you work as a programmer for Microsoft's WP7's customer data stealing department you can never truly get a complete set of facts. There are assumptions and trusting others involved in every step of the way.
            Nice. That way, there is no way of ever proving you wrong, is there?

            Plus I have better things to do then investigative journalism for every Microsoft is Evil (tm) case I hear about. Making certain assumptions is the sensible thing to do.
            It's not the sensible thing to do. It just
    • WinPhone user here, I love it. I could do with a little more freedom to install what I want, but the device is the biggest step forward they have ever had. The speed, the reliability, the one thumb friendliness. The apps that matter are there, I don't need to point at 500,000 apps that are largely copies of other bad apps, or worthless gag apps, to qualify the device like Android and Apple. I also had it since day one, and have been along for the ride as they matured the device while I used it, but for some
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Kiss my ass WP7 is great. So what if it they log your location, every other freaking device is subject to the same shit. I for one am sick of this bash Microsoft all the time around here on slashdot almost makes it not worth reading the cruf posted on this site anymore.

  • Apple wasn't collecting users' actual location; they were collecting the cell towers they were near. Beyond that, it was a bug that, when reported, was fixed within days. Heaven forbid someone just tell Apple (or whatever company) that they have a bug, so not scare people over nothing.
    • Apple wasn't collecting users' actual location; they were collecting the cell towers they were near. Beyond that, it was a bug that, when reported, was fixed within days. Heaven forbid someone just tell Apple (or whatever company) that they have a bug, so not scare people over nothing.

      Actually, the problem was that people don't have brains and get all excited. Apple couldn't read the information that was found stored on iPhones, so Apple couldn't use this information to track a user. And if someone wanted to find your location with this data, they first had to steal the phone from your pocket. In which case they know where the phone is anyway. But where common sense broke down completely was that all these idiots didn't realise that the information stored on the iPhone arrived there beca

  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Everything that gets released with public 'net access are found to have some piece(s) of software/hardware that 'violate privacy'.

    In the end, some say, "it sure is and I can prove it" and others say, "it actually isn't and there are ways to see clearly that it isn't true."
    Actually, I'm glad that this is being posted so hardcore geeks have a chance to test it and see what the end results are (basically acquire more data).

    Eh, it will repeat itself in a different way a little after the du

  • When you get a cell phone, you're gonna be tracked. It could be iPhone, Android, W7, or even a "dumbphone". They will track you. We accept this when we get cell phones.

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