Author Topic: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go  (Read 3180 times)

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Offline z_randy

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iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« on: April 21, 2011, 10:47:58 AM »
Big brother is watching and his name is Apple.....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/20/iphone-tracking-prompts-privacy-fears

Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.

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."

Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: "This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone's life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage."

Warden and Allan point out that the file is moved onto new devices when an old one is replaced: "Apple might have new features in mind that require a history of your location, but that's our specualtion. The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn't accidental." But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself.
iphone-data-map Map shows location data collected from an iPhone that had been used in the southwest of England

Although mobile networks already record phones' locations, it is only available to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act. Standard phones do not record location data.

MPs in 2009 criticised the search engine giant Google for its "Latitude" system, which allowed people to enable their mobile to give out details of their location to trusted contacts. At the time MPs said that Latitude "could substantially endanger user privacy", but Google pointed out that users had to specifically choose to make their data available.

The iPhone system, by contrast, 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.

Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining. The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner's computer.

If someone were to steal an iPhone and "jailbreak" it, giving them direct access to the files it contains, they could extract the location database directly. Alternatively, anyone with direct access to a user's computer could run the application and see a visualisation of their movements. Encrypting data on the computer is one way to protect against it, though that still leaves the file on the phone.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the security company Sophos, said: "If the data isn't required for anything, then it shouldn't store the location. And it doesn't need to keep an archive on your machine of where you've been." He suggested that Apple might be hoping that it would yield data for future mobile advertising targeted by location, although he added: "I tend to subscribe to cockup rather than conspiracy on things like this – I don't think Apple is really trying to monitor where users are."
iphone data The data inside the file containing the location and time information. This is used to plot the map above

The location file came to light when Warden and Allan were looking for a source of mobile data. "We'd been discussing doing a visualisation of mobile data, and while Alasdair was researching into what was available, he discovered this file. At first we weren't sure how much data was there, but after we dug further and visualised the extracted data, it became clear that there was a scary amount of detail on our movements," Warden said.

They have blogged about their discovery at O'Reilly's Radar site, noting that "why this data is stored and how Apple intends to use it — or not — are important questions that need to be explored."

The pair of data scientists have collaborated on a number of data visualisations, including a map of radiation levels in Japan for The Guardian. They are developing a Data Science Toolkit for dealing with location data.

Davies said that the discovery of the file indicated that Apple had failed to take users' privacy seriously.

Apple can legitimately claim that it has permission to collect the data: near the end of the 15,200-word terms and conditions for its iTunes program, used to synchronise with iPhones, iPods and iPads, is an 86-word paragraph about "location-based services".

It says that "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."





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Offline Frobozz

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2011, 12:40:21 PM »
Just another example of Apple's "love" for their customers.  You can now add tracking to things like high prices, feature hold-backs and releasing products with known defects.  But this won't stop the indoctrinated masses in their love of whatever Steve Jobs comes up with.




 

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2011, 02:23:48 PM »
The only reason they can legally do that is simply because people don't fully read everyone contract that they sign. That's horrible though, there isn't an option to stop it? They really don't care about privacy at all.
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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2011, 03:07:52 PM »
personally I could careless if tracking in phoneI don't need to worry if someone knows where I am,



Offline z_randy

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2011, 03:24:22 PM »
personally I could careless if tracking in phoneI don't need to worry if someone knows where I am,
I understand if you aren't doing anything wrong so what?  But why does Apple need to know where you are?  Your wife..OK I can see that.  But a tech company?  What gives them the right to do this without your knowledge?  And why hide it?  If the government was doing this everyone would freak.



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Offline iDad

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2011, 03:31:14 PM »
Most likely the government is doing it to Apple just a cover for them lol



Offline Quagmire

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iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2011, 04:19:56 PM »
Just another example of Apple's "love" for their customers.  You can now add tracking to things like high prices, feature hold-backs and releasing products with known defects.  But this won't stop the indoctrinated masses in their love of whatever Steve Jobs comes up with.

Agree with you on the feature holdbacks, though that's not just apple. I had plenty of Nokia/Motorola products prior to my iPhone that had unavailable features due to sprint/Cingular/Bellsouth/At&T.

But I still love my iPhone.

Another way you could look at the tracking is that if could be a defense in court if you were ever wrongly accused of something. Plaintiff says one thing, but phone's location data says you were elsewhere at the time of alleged offense.

I dont ever go places I shouldn't be, so I have no problem with this feature/bug. I can see where it might be problematic if you were screwing around on your wife or something though.

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2011, 08:31:11 PM »
Interesting how this is no big deal to people.  The government is not allowed to track/spy on you. If this was the FBI doing this to your phones people would freak out.  But because it's the beloved Apple Corp nobody cares.  I'm willing to bet if it was Microsoft people would be pissed.



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Offline Quagmire

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iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2011, 10:39:46 PM »
I'm willing to bet if it was Microsoft people would be pissed.

Because Microsoft is so damn rife with security holes. No matter how much adware/spyware/malware prevention stuff you put on your pc, it never seems to help, it only seems to slow the thing down. I'm not a programmer, but I'd bet it's much easier for a hacker to access that type of info on a pc than on a Mac product.

Having said that, I'm sure that as apple's market share continues to grow, there will be more successful attempts by hackers to exploit those products.

Offline Frobozz

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2011, 11:19:21 PM »
Having said that, I'm sure that as apple's market share continues to grow, there will be more successful attempts by hackers to exploit those products.

That's always been the nature of the beast.  The hackers will gravitate to wherever the bulk of the victims are.


 

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2011, 12:01:52 AM »
Having said that, I'm sure that as apple's market share continues to grow, there will be more successful attempts by hackers to exploit those products.

That's always been the nature of the beast.  The hackers will gravitate to wherever the bulk of the victims are.

There are more PC users, so there are more hackers that attack PCs. Macs generally have the same problems as PCs, at least as far as I've seen (a friend of mine had a Mac that was barely useable because of all the crap it got infected with), so I don't really cater to one specific computer type. Though I will say there is also a lot more programs out there that work only on PCs, or that still need to be ported to Mac.
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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2011, 12:41:34 AM »
i have had my macbook for 3 years, and my wife has had hers for 4 and neither of us have had issues with it.  As more and more people buy mac, i see the problem getting larger, but for now i am loving it.

Offline z_randy

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2011, 09:16:37 AM »
I'm willing to bet if it was Microsoft people would be pissed.

Because Microsoft is so damn rife with security holes. No matter how much adware/spyware/malware prevention stuff you put on your pc, it never seems to help, it only seems to slow the thing down. I'm not a programmer, but I'd bet it's much easier for a hacker to access that type of info on a pc than on a Mac product.

Having said that, I'm sure that as apple's market share continues to grow, there will be more successful attempts by hackers to exploit those products.
Not really sure I understand that.  Apple is hacking into your phone and your life and taking info on you and that's OK?  But Microsoft sucks because it gets hacked?
Guess Apple really can do no wrong



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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2011, 09:32:00 AM »
This is yet just another reason I, nor anyone in my family, will get an iPhone. The first thing that popped into my head was if my daughter were to lose it and some perv got ahold of it. I will stick with HTC products, for now.


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Offline Quagmire

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Re: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2011, 11:45:09 AM »
Though I will say there is also a lot more programs out there that work only on PCs, or that still need to be ported to Mac.

I will grant you that.  I don't personally have any software needs that aren't able to be met by my apple products, but I know that for a lot of users, that is a true statement.

i have had my macbook for 3 years, and my wife has had hers for 4 and neither of us have had issues with it.

Same experience here.  My wife is running a six year old Powerbook G4, and I'm running a three year old iMac.  The only two problems we've ever encountered were a defective laptop battery, which apple replaced free of charge several years post-purchase, and my wife's laptop got slowed down due to her nearing the storage capacity of the hard drive.  I installed a larger one, which solved that problem.

Not really sure I understand that.  Apple is hacking into your phone and your life and taking info on you and that's OK?  But Microsoft sucks because it gets hacked?
Guess Apple really can do no wrong

Microsoft does not seem to be as aggressive with security as the apple products.  Fro made a comment regarding apple's release of products with known defects, but the instances of that seem to me to be in far fewer numbers and severity than with Microsoft products.  Further, neither my wife nor I have ever had problems with malware on either one of our computers, so while Apple may have location info for me, I consider it to be far less likely that a hacker would be able to access that information file.

I agree that it would be more ideal if there was an opt-in/out toggle that apple offered, but I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist.  There have been over 100 million iPhones sold.  I doubt that apple is scrutinizing my account.  Like I said before, I don't really go places I shouldn't...so if someone wants to waste their time looking at my records, they can enjoy being unproductive.


 



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