September 08, 2011, 10:27 AM — Microsoft said this week it is investigating a lawsuit's allegation that the camera application on Windows Phone 7 handsets collects location data from nearby Wi-Fi and cellular networks -- even if the user refuses permission to do so.
But the company repeated its assurance that it doesn't associate a unique identifier with the location, so the data collected by the application and stored on Microsoft servers "cannot be correlated to a specific device or user. Any transmission of location data by the Windows Phone camera would not enable Microsoft to identify an individual or 'track' his or her movements."
But that statement still leaves many questions unanswered, and Microsoft has given no sign as to when, or whether, it will address them.
The allegation of location snooping is at the center of a proposed class action lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Seattle on behalf of a Michigan woman, Rebecca Cousineau, and "all others similarly situated." The legal firm filing the suit, Seattle-based Tousley Brain Stephens, hired a security researcher, Samy Kamkar, to test whether the application was collecting the data and sending it to a location database on a Microsoft server, according to CNET.
The lawsuit charges, according to the original Reuters story on Aug. 31, that Microsoft "intentionally designed camera software on the Windows Phone 7 operating system to ignore customer requests that they not be tracked." In the case of the Windows Phone camera, the location data is intended to be associated with a user's photos.