Monday, July 04, 2011

Microsoft releases source code for WiFi access point data collection software

Microsoft has released the source code for the software that is being used to log WiFi information to support their location based services. Transparency is a good idea in this sensitive and closely-scrutinized area.

Managed Driving Data Collection - Home

Resource Page Description

As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to consumer privacy, we are providing more transparency about how we gather information through managed driving to provide location-based services. We are sharing relevant portions of our data collection software source code that demonstrates both the type and amount of data we collect through managed driving.

The information collected during Managed Driving includes Cell tower, Wi-Fi and GPS data. The collected data is used to build a positioning database that helps create location capabilities and services for Windows Phone and other Microsoft products and services.

The code has been written using a combination of native and managed code, and uses publicly documented interfaces for accessing Cell tower, Wi-Fi and GPS data. The software only detects management frame subtypes called probe request frames, which do not contain any personal user content. The software does not observe or collect any data frame packets, which are the type of Wi-Fi packets that may contain user content transmitted over a network nor does it attempt to connect to any open networks. The software only observes information that is publicly broadcasted by the Cell tower, Wi-Fi access point and GPS satellites. The information we collect includes elements like latitude, longitude, direction, speed, mobile country code, mobile network code, location area code, cell identifier and only specific Wi-Fi information such as BSSID (i.e, the Media Access Control aka MAC address), signal strength, and radio type.

During the collection process, we collect and retain only as much Wi-Fi access point data as necessary to build our positioning database, and none of data collected is associated with personally identifiable consumer information.


Anonymous said...

Very Interesting. Thank you David.

Lynn W.

Nathan said...

I can't believe Microsoft did this! So interesting even though I'm a little late to the party.