Now Windows 7 smartphones collect your location data

According to the software giant, Windows Phone 7 devices send the MAC address and signal strength of WiFi access points, the user's location if GPS is turned on, and a unique device ID.

The good news – if there is such a thing – is that Microsoft says that, in order to stop data collection in Windows Phone 7, users need to turn off all location-based services on the handset using a global setting provided for this purpose.

Unlike Apple and Google, however, Microsoft has detailed why it collates the data, and what it does with it.

"To provide location services, Microsoft assembles and maintains a database that records the location of certain mobile cell towers and WiFi access points", says the software giant in a security blog posting.

"These data points are used to calculate and provide an approximate location of the user's device by comparing the WiFi access points and cell towers that a user's device can detect to the location database, which contains correlations of known WiFi access points and cell towers to observed latitudes and longitudes", it adds in its detailed posting on the issue.

Interestingly, Microsoft says that it prefers to use cell-tower locations over GPS, as this extrapolation uses less battery power. The additional consumption, it adds, can have an impact on mobile phone users by increasing data charges and draining the battery.

To turn off location services for all applications, Microsoft says that users should:

From start, flick left to the app list, and then tap settings, and then tap the location, and turn off location services.

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