Your iPhone, iPod & iPad Track Wherever You Go & Save It In a Secret File
The wildly popular Apple iPhone tracks wherever you go, recording location data and saving it to a secret file that tech-minded sleuths could easily access, the Guardian of London reports.
The file stores timestamped latitudes and longitudes, and is synchronized to a user’s computer when the iPhone is connected, security researchers found. If the phone or computer were stolen, anyone could spy this data using a simple progam, according to the report.
From the Guardian piece Wednesday:
For some phones, there could be almost a year’s worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the phone’s operating system, released in June 2010.
“Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been,” said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.
Only the iPhone records the user’s location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. “Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in (Google’s) Android phones and couldn’t find any,” said Warden. “We haven’t come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this.”
So, if you have an iPhone, can you turn off this functionality? It seems you can’t, and Apple seems to have enabled it without announcing the change to users, the Guardian reports.
However, if you read the fine print of Apple’s 15,200-word iTunes terms and conditions, you’ll find this paragraph near the end.
Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.