Most Read: Business

 Last Update: 4:15 PM 05/04/2015(NASDAQ&DJIA)

World Markets from      


Other Market Data from      


Key Rates from      


Blog Contributors

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

Brian Fung

Brian Fung

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on electronic privacy, national security, digital politics and the Internet that binds it all together. He was previously the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic. His writing has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Talking Points Memo, the American Prospect and Nonprofit Quarterly. Follow Brian on Google+ .

Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

Post Tech
About / Where's Post I.T.?   |    Twitter  |   On Facebook  |  RSS RSS Feed  |  E-Mail Cecilia
Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 04/26/2011

Does Windows Phone 7 track users?

Aaron Woodman, Microsoft's director of their mobile communications business, last November. (Ted S. Warren - AP)
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform does not store location data on the phone, but it does collect some location information from users who have location services turned on.

A Microsoft spokesperson sent along a link to a company Web site, which outlines the company’s policies on privacy and location data in plain English. From this site, it’s clear that while the company does collect some information, users have the option of turning off location services completely.

Microsoft assembles and maintains a database for its location servers using the location of mobile towers and and WiFi access points gathered from those who have enabled WiFi and location services.

To turn off location services on a Windows phone, customers can tap the “Location” option in their phone Settings menu and turn off Location Services.

When WiFi is turned on, Microsoft collects the MAC address of the access point, the signal strength and a randomly generated unique device ID. If GPS is enabled, the company will also collect latitude and longitude data, as well as direction and speed.

Microsoft also says it does not collect background WiFi or location information when those settings are turned off.

Reports from CNET and PCMag sketch out a little more information on the company’s policies. PCMag’s Peter Pachal reported that Microsoft’s “Find My Phone” service only stores a phone’s most recent location. CNET’s Declan McCullagh has asked Microsoft for more information about how long it stores what customers have authorized it to collect and how frequently the phone’s information is transmitted.

When asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the Web site note is all the company is providing at this time.

Related stories:

How to encrypt the iPhone tracking file

Your iPhone and iPad are tracking you, researchers say

Tracking on the iPhone catches the Hill’s attention

By  |  03:00 PM ET, 04/26/2011

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company