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.