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Microsoft Networking Privacy Security The Internet Wireless Networking News Your Rights Online

Microsoft Exposes Locations of PCs and Phones 96

suraj.sun sends this excerpt from CNET: "Microsoft has collected the locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other Wi-Fi devices around the world and makes them available on the Web without taking the privacy precautions that competitors have, CNET has learned. The vast database available through publishes the precise geographical location, which can point to a street address and sometimes even a corner of a building, of Android phones, Apple devices, and other Wi-Fi enabled gadgets. Unlike Google and Skyhook Wireless, which have compiled similar lists of these unique Wi-Fi addresses, Microsoft has not taken any measures to curb access to its database."
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Microsoft Exposes Locations of PCs and Phones

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  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YodasEvilTwin ( 2014446 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @02:21PM (#36924804) Homepage
    All the full article really says is that someone could tie a MAC address to a location. So? Knowing your MAC address gives me almost no information about you -- nothing personally identifiable, anyways, unless I have an unrelated method of attaching your MAC to you personally (such as having physical access to your phone...). So the information is entirely useless for someone trying to invade your privacy, unless there's something I'm missing (that wasn't included in the article).
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John.P.Jones ( 601028 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @02:31PM (#36924984)

    I see you on the street and decide to target you, I sniff some packets and learn your MAC address. I then use this MAC address to find where you are/have been/will be. The point is the connection between you and a set of MAC addresses is random but pretty static which can then be indexed to learn a lot about your locations.

  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @02:36PM (#36925058) Homepage Journal
    The only difference is that MS are letting us see what they have. Google have collected the same data and more. (And bear in mind anyone with a fleet of vans could do the same). When it comes to violating my privacy, I don't think I have more faith in any of these companies than I do in random strangers on the internet.
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Friday July 29, 2011 @04:06PM (#36926298) Journal

    So the information is entirely useless for someone trying to invade your privacy, unless there's something I'm missing

    Suppose that there is a method to determine (with reasonable certainty) what your wireless MAC address is.

    Suppose this method is just as simple as driving by a location where you are known to be present (ie: at home) while you're using WiFi.

    What then?

    Or: Suppose that you have legal reasons to be paranoid, and physical access to the device by armed thugs with jackboots is only a warrant away.

    What then?

    Or. Suppose that an app on your phone calls home with your MAC address [].

    What if it also knows your phone number []?

    What then?

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll