Apple Not Safeguarding Privacy

Despite its obvious value to advertisers, tracking consumers' every move -- particularly without their knowledge -- is still seen as a clear invasion of privacy. It should therefore surprise many to learn that Apple iPhones and 3G iPads record and save their owners' geographic history, according to new findings from two security researchers.

"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," Pete Warden, one of the researchers, tells The Guardian. Along with fellow data scientist Alasdair Allan, Warden plans to present their discover at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

"We're not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it's clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations," Allan explains in O'Reilly Radar. "What makes this issue worse is that the file is unencrypted and unprotected, and it's on any machine you've synched with your iOS device."

"While it is not unusual for cellphones to track users' location, that information is typically kept behind a firewall and it requires a court order for others to be able to access it," notes ReadWriteWeb. "This isn't the case with this particular file, raising serious questions about privacy and security."

"I tend to lean towards the open and trusting end of the scale when it comes to information sharing," writes GigaOm's Darrell Etherington. "Then again, that probably makes me a prime candidate for things like Please Rob Me, and many others will likely not be so comfortable knowing their iPhone or iPad has a relatively accurate record of their whereabouts."

As Warden tells The Guardian: "Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any ... We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this."

Read the whole story at The Guardian »
Tags: apple, privacy
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2 comments about "Apple Not Safeguarding Privacy".
  1. Kelly Smith from The WebSmith Group , April 20, 2011 at 1:33 p.m.

    As we continue to get closer and closer to the time when all privacy and freedom is removed, it makes you want to long for a day when you could think for yourself and have some free time to yourself. Every one of these inventions in the last decade all have some positive aspects to it, but they have all come at the cost of our freedom. I don't think anyone really realizes just how much we have lost.

  2. Rick Monihan from None , April 21, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.

    1984 may have 30 years before its time! The idea of being so easily tracked hasn't been particularly concerning to me, but I agree with Kelly - the benefits of the technology come with a cost of freedom and privacy. If you're comfortable with that, it's a fair trade off.

    I'm increasingly uncomfortable with it. We don't realize what we've given up until that day when it impacts us directly.