Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook
Hot on the heels of a report on Google’s collection of location data for mobile devices and laptops comes another offender: Microsoft. In this case, it’s even worse than Google’s FUBAR, as Microsoft hasn’t taken any privacy precautions.
The database, available via Live.com, was created by using crowdsourced data gathered from Windows Phone 7 devices along with what Microsoft calls “managed driving” by Google Street View-like vehicles.
Google and Skyhook Wireless have compiled similar databases consisting of MAC addresses. However, while Google tightened up privacy controls after a C|NET article, and Skyhook uses a limited form of geolocation as protection, Microsoft has no such protections in place, C|Net reported.
The database appears to extend beyond North America. C|Net ran a test using a range of MAC addresses used by HTC devices, and Live.com returned locations fromn Leon, Spain; Westminster, London; a suburb of Tokyo, Japan; and Cologne, Germany.
In addition, some MAC addresses appeared to change locations, which could meant that the database could be used to track the movements of a device and thus, presumably, its user.
Still, this may or may not be a tempest in a tea pot. You’d have to know the MAC address of a specific device before this information would be useful. That said, it’s another example of why true privacy is a difficult thing to achieve. Google, in fact, has previously said it no longer exists.