Microsoft has denied claims that it is tracking the location of Windows Phone 7 customers through the operating system's camera application, but has promised to investigate what appears to be yet another data privacy concern.
The firm is facing a legal challenge in a Seattle court from a customer called Rebecca Cousineau, who claims that the camera application records data on an individual's location regardless of whether permission has been granted or not.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment directly on the case, but said that the company will "investigate the claims raised in the complaint" to ensure that it adheres to its own standards on privacy.
"Our objective was - and remains - to provide consumers with control over whether and how data used to determine the location of their devices is used, and we designed the Windows Phone operating system with this in mind," they said.
The spokesperson also looked to reassure Windows Phone 7 customers that even data collected by consent cannot identify individuals.
"Any transmission of location data by the Windows Phone camera would not enable Microsoft to identify an individual or 'track' his or her movements," they said.
"Because we do not store unique identifiers with any data transmitted to our location service database by the Windows Phone camera or any other application, the data captured and stored on our location database cannot be correlated to a specific device or user."
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) told V3 that the case underlines the problems of data collection. The watchdog said that it was working with vendors and data regulators to ensure that companies are aware of their obligations to adhere to customer requests.
"The ICO is aware of the concern that exists around the location data stored on smartphones manufactured by a number of suppliers, and is discussing this issue with industry representatives as well as other European data protection regulators," the organisation said.
"In particular the ICO is discussing the important responsibility that smartphone manufacturers have to clearly explain how the data collected on their phones will be used and the length of time the information will be held."
Microsoft's woes come after Apple was also forced to defend itself against claims that it was tracking users' locations through iPhone devices. Google also faced numerous issues after accidentally collecting Wi-Fi information via its Street View cars.
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