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12 September 2011, 15:15

Microsoft removes anti-virus app from Windows Phone marketplace

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Microsoft has removed the AVG Mobilation for Windows Phone 7 virus scanner from its marketplace as doubts had been raised about its functionality and compliance with data protection regulations. By default, GPS tracking is active, so the user's location is sent to AVG's server with a unique ID. While an app that is partly designed to allow users to find a lost mobile phone would be expected to provide such a function, former Microsoft employee Justin Angel tweets that he is still concerned.

Angel explains that, when the app is launched, the user's position is transmitted to AVG along with other personal and device data, such as the smartphone's serial number. Also, according to the Within Windows, the app has few additional functions. Apparently, the mobile app's on-demand virus scanner can only detect the completely harmless EICAR test virus signatures.

Brandon Watson, a Windows Phone developer at Microsoft, then announced that the app had been removed from the marketplace for a renewed review.

AVG says that the standard information collected is only used for the app's theft-prevention function. If a smartphone is stolen, it can be located using the geolocation data stored on AVG's server. The company notes that users can opt-out of the phone location tracking feature and that, by default, "the user’s email address box is left blank and it is up to the consumer to provide their email address for future identification by the system, but it is not mandatory to do so."

The company does at least promise that data will not be shared with third parties or used for targeted marketing. "We do not access your location data without your permission", added AVG.

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