Microsoft releases Wi-Fi-logging code for privacy check

Microsoft releases Wi-Fi-logging code for privacy check

Summary: Microsoft has released some of the source code for the software it uses to collect details of people's Wi-Fi hotspots, so that it can be examined for privacy implications.In a blog post on Friday, Reid Kuhn, partner group program manager for the Windows Phone engineering team, said the publication of the code should demonstrate Microsoft's commitment to privacy and ensuring the protection of people's information.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Telcos
1

Microsoft has released some of the source code for the software it uses to collect details of people's Wi-Fi hotspots, so that it can be examined for privacy implications.

In a blog post on Friday, Reid Kuhn, partner group program manager for the Windows Phone engineering team, said the publication of the code should demonstrate Microsoft's commitment to privacy and ensuring the protection of people's information.

The code released by Microsoft is part of that used in an activity it dubs 'managed driving', whereby Microsoft uses cars to collect cell tower, Wi-Fi and GPS data. The idea behind the mapping is to be able to provide faster and better-targeted location-based services to Windows Phone users.

However, Microsoft was also tracking the smartphones themselves, a practice it said in May it would stop. Apple was doing more-or-less the same thing to iPhone users, and even Android makes heavy use of location data culled from customers' handsets, although Google's mobile platform has always been more explicit about it.

Google did get into a lot of trouble for its own managed driving, though. Last year the company was chastised by the UK's information commissioner for the unannounced collection by its Street View cars of not only Wi-Fi access point information, but also fragments of the data being sent over those routers.

While the UK privacy watchdog's censure amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist, authorities in France hit the company with a €100k (£87k at the time) fine. Google has always maintained that the data collection was accidental.

"Important for respecting consumer privacy, [Microsoft's] software does not intercept wireless data transmissions from consumers' computers," Kuhn wrote on Friday. "The software neither observes nor records any information that may contain user content transmitted over a network."

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

1 comment
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hopefully Google, Microsoft and apple will disclose to their users whenever data about them is collected without their consent. Fortunately I don't use a smartphone - I just use a plain old cell phone that actually works at making calls - which is what I need it for, and have no plans to "upgrade" to a smart phone any time in the future.
    leogoldberg