Google and Microsoft also track your phone's location

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 27 2011 @ 12:07 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Last week it was revealed that Apple's iPhone tracks your moves, but now it has come to light that this sneaky behaviour is also found on Android and Windows Phone 7 devices. Last week researchers found Android regularly gathers and sends location data to Google:
Using an HTC smartphone, security analyst Samy Kamkar found that the handset was regularly gathering and sending location data to Google. "[The device] also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier," writes the Journal.

"All location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user,” a Google rep told All Things D. “We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices. Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user.”
And this week Microsoft admitted that Windows Phone 7 also collects data:
Microsoft said that it assembles and maintains a database of the locations of cell towers and Wi-Fi access points in order to provide its location services. When a user accesses an application that requires location information, Microsoft compares the Wi-Fi access points and cell towers in range of the device with the location database, which contains details of the locations of the access points and cell towers.

Microsoft has assembled the database in two ways, it said. One is via teams of people who drive around with phones that collect information about Wi-Fi access points, matching that data with location information collected via GPS. The company started that process last year and plans to continue this year, it said.

In addition, when customers are using location-aware applications and Wi-Fi is turned on, the phones collect information about nearby Wi-Fi access points. If the user has GPS turned on, Microsoft will also collect location details.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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