At the end of last week, a security researcher at Stanford named Elie Bursztein discovered that Microsoft was the latest culprit of location tracking shenanigans. Over the next few days, the subject flared back into prominence and the company sprang into quick action.
“Using the Microsoft Geolocalization API to retrace where a Windows laptop has been” was the title of Bursztein’s blog, posted on his elie.im site. “For each access point a computer is connected to, Windows records its MAC address and the last time of connection,” Burzstein worte. “The physical location of a MAC address can be found by querying a public geolocation API” and this data can be used “to create a map of where the computer has been.”
Bursztein found that Internet Explorer’s built in API was even more useful for this dangerous application than the Google API he’d previously used. And, chillingly, he wrote that “I have contacted Microsoft about this and based on our email exchange it seems that this is not an issue for them.”
The post caused a storm of controversy, resurrecting fears that had largely quieted down since the Apple and Google location-tracking uproar in April. Microsoft defended itself in a similar fashion to these companies, claiming that the easy access and retention of data was a bug, and that the feature was a benefit to customers by way of providing improved location-based services.
Howver, throughout the weekend, Bursztein and Microsoft were talking much more. On Sunday night, Burzstein tweeted: “Re Live Geolocation flaw: Had a call with Microsoft folks (on a Saturday !). Live API is patched :) MS official response pending.”
The “Mircosoft Privacy Team” response on TechNet stated, in part, “this change adds improved filtering to validate each request so that the service will no longer return an inferred position when a single Media Access Control address is submitted,” wrote Reid Kuhn, a Partner Group Program Manager on the Windows Phone engineering team at Microsoft. “Microsoft is keenly aware of the sensitivity around all privacy issues, especially those surrounding geolocation.“
James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for IBG.com. With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at www.ibg.com. EastSide Lenders strives to set the standard for the online pay day loan business. They are dedicated to providing premier alternative financing and helping people receive a quick a pay day loan.