Did you know that your iPhone 4 is tracking your location data? You might not have been informed up until a week ago when what seems to have been quietly discovered months ago by a research group finally made it to the headlines. But is it true? Apple claims that it's not. Not exactly.
“1. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?
Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
Wait, you must be slightly confused after it was confirmed that it not only tracks the position of your iPhone, but it does so in an unencrypted file, which is also backed up to your PC everytime you back up your handset. This means that everyone in the know looking for it, might have a personal record of your travels for a whole year. The ability to have a complete record of your location might sound cool at first, but having it unencrypted should make it slightly disturbing even for the most liberal of users out there.
“3. Why is my iPhone logging my location?
The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone”
Is Apple saying here that it's not recording your location with absolute precision? Technically Cupertino is right – it only tracks the position of cell towers, but the final result is arguably the same as you get a rather accurate estimate of your location through cell tower triangulation.
While knowing your position in environments where GPS would have taken a lot of time is undoubtedly beneficial, the security issue remains unaddressed. Cupertino was actually surprised to find out it's collecting a year worth of your iPhone's location, while it was only supposed to gather information about a week. Luckily, that's going to change in an upcoming update:
“The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly ... We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.”
The irony of it all is that Steve Jobs himself stood up to quite convincingly make the point that iOS is absolutely secure. We would hate to blow this out of proportion, but it seems that with all privacy measures, the amount of data collected could be endangered. Bugs are inevitable, but the bottom line is that it's honorable that Apple came up with an official statement and an update is now pending. And being reassured about security is a nice prelude to the white iPhone 4, isn't it? Check out the full Q&A at the link below and don't hesitate to let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments section.