Wow. Your iPhone and iPad are tracking every move you make.

20 April 2011

The video above shows an iPhone 4 being tracked along a train route between Washington DC and New York City. Where did the data come from? The iPhone 4 itself. O'Reilly Radar reports that since iPhones and iPad 3Gs were updated with Apples iOS 4 operating system, devices regularly record the geographical coordinates of their location, together with a timestamp, and store them in an easy-to-access file.

The security and privacy implications are enormous. If you've owned an iPhone 4 since it became available last year, it has a complete log of everywhere you've been and potentially how long you've spent there. As has been pointed out by technology pundits, it won't be long before the information is called upon in divorce wrangles. Worse, the information is unencrypted and unprotected - one of the authors of the post has written a simple programme to extract the information from any device.

Of course there are plenty of apps that record location information - Foursquare, Gowalla, even Apple's own Find iPhone app. But these services are opt-in; a user can choose to enroll in these services and opt-out when they choose. The question is why is Apple recording this information without the consent of the owner?


TOPICS:   Privacy   Mobile


  • Steve O.
    In answer to the question at the end, because they're cunts.
  • John I.
    I saw "O'" and thought you linked to something by Bill O'Reilly. Shit myself silly.
  • leeisgod
    Steve o, you beat me to it. Still waiting for the fanboys to put their reasons why this is a good idea.
  • Paul S.
    It isn't a good idea. It's insanity.
  • Alexis
    Cool. Would be fun to see a map of where I've been over the last year. They should have a website where you just input your phone's serial number.
  • Jen
    This is absolutely nuts. It's official - Apple has always given me the heebiejeebies, but now I know I'll never buy an iphone or an ipad!
  • Zleet
    Didn't the Iphone used to tag all photos with GPS coordinates? I remember some site popped up a while ago that used to show google maps of where lasses had taken nude photos of themselves, usually collage campuses but sometimes their houses.
  • Confused
    Chill the fuck out. It's a cache of your cell tower triangulations. Y'know how your phone know where you are? So that you get those nice weather updates for your current location? Well, this just means your phone doesn't need to ask Apple where it is all the time. Oh and Alexis: try Google Latitude. That's exactly what that does.
  • TimB
    The difference is, Google Latitude is opt in. A cache of the last known location is all that's needed for weather etc. There is absolutely no valid reason for the device to natively log a history of locations without user opt in.
  • Alexis
    Found the app! Kept me amused for a bit. @ Confused - I agree 100%
  • james D.
    I wonder how long till this becomes the crucial piece of evidence in a court case.
  • Yes, B.
    [...] the furore over the sneaky tracking of iPhone user’s movements rumbles on, it has now emerged that Android phones are doing a very similar thing, bad news for [...]
  • Zleet
    Why would anyone need to know the weather where they are on a phone, look out of a fucking window.
  • Hugh J.
    @Zleet near enough, but mostly theyd be outside, so I guess being conscious would help! Apple have always been cunts, and always will be.. Sure there is fun to be had with this, but personal security is at HIGH risk.. Seriously, stalkers would love this, as would paedophiles who just want to know where the young'ins hang out the most... Yet another reason I refuse to have a smart phone.. Good ole candy phones FTFW! another fuck you steve jobs you scabby wee shite hawk!

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