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Microsoft’s ‘Locationgate’ ends with Mango

Microsoft has updated its Windows Phone platform to address what is now presumed to have been a bug that caused phones to gather location data before a user opted in to such services. Windows Phone developer Rafael Rivera last week revealed that Microsoft’s mobile platform was exhibiting behavior that directly contradicted earlier claims the company made to the United States government. Microsoft’s new “Mango” update, however, appears to have remedied the matter. Read on for more.

“Microsoft only collects information to help determine a phone’s approximate location if (a) the user has allowed an application to access and use location data, and (b) that application actually requests the location data,” Microsoft said recently in a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives. Meanwhile, Rivera discovered that Windows Phone devices began collecting and transmitting “pin-point accurate positioning information” before users were even given the option to opt into such a service.

This behavior now appears to have been a bug. Rivera analyzed the latest version of Windows Phone currently being pushed out to smartphones around the world, and he found that the new OS no longer collects location data until users opt in.

“I have confirmed that Windows Phone ‘Mango’ no longer sends location data prior to being granted permission to do so,” Rivera wrote in a blog post earlier this week. “The behavior I’m now seeing is perfectly aligned with Microsoft’s letter to the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Pending lawsuits against Microsoft surrounding the collection of location data will no doubt continue, but it appears as though Windows Phone’s collection of positioning data is now completely transparent and in line with descriptions provided in the terms of use.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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