updated 02:30 pm EDT, Fri July 29, 2011
Company criticized for lack of security
Microsoft has reportedly published location information for Wi-Fi devices, such as personal cellphones and notebooks. The content is available from the company's Live.com location database, which is said to provide data that can be used to pinpoint certain device locations, connected to Media Access Control (MAC) addresses, down to a specific street address.
The discovery has led to criticism over Microsoft's security policies, as the Live.com database is said to be unprotected. A similar situation involving Google forced the search giant to enact policies that would prevent users from viewing specific location information.
In a statement that echoes Google's position, Microsoft told CNET that its location database does collect "tower IDs and MAC addresses of Wi-Fi access points via both user devices and managed driving." The company argues that it works to remove any MAC addresses that appear to move, which would point to mobile devices such as cellphones rather than stationary access points.
Despite Microsoft's efforts to purge mobile MAC addresses from its database, it remains unclear if a large number of personal location information remains in the system.