This is one of my rare technology posts and a real shocker. It concerns privacy issues raised today the the Guardian (British) newspaper about a file on iPhone that stores locations, coordinates and timestamps, of owners movements. This file has only recently been discovered.
The iPhone apparently keeps a track of every detail of your activities and saves it to a “secret” file on the device, which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronized. And, from the Apple iOS 4 onwards, stores almost a year’s worth of data.
“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.
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.”
As far as I’m concerned this is a real threat to privacy and, to top it off, police in one of our states is apparently taking information from the iPhones of people stopped for traffic infractions and transferring the information to their police computers.
According to the article in the Guardian, the iPhone system appears to record the data whether or not the user agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled.
To learn more details about this situation please click on the guardian.uk.com article published today.