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iOS 4 tracks your every move by default since last June, there is not much you can do about it

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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iOS 4 tracks your every move by default since last June, there is not much you can do about it
There's been a lot of noise these days about that logfile, present on each iPhone, that has been storing your location information since last June's iOS 4 update. The file records your latitude and longitude at given intervals, and also logs in the time at which your position was taken.

First discovered by security specialists, they said that the unencrypted file can be retrieved both from your iPhone, or from your computer, if you sync with iTunes.

Of course, security companies often cry wolf over many vulnerabilities, because that's the nature of their work, but the troubling thing here is this feature is turned on by default, and you can't opt out like when you choose whether to give permission to Google to track your location data in Android phones.

Map of an iPhone user's locations since last June, retrieved from the phone's logfile

Map of an iPhone user's locations since last June, retrieved from the phone's logfile


Reached for comment, Microsoft also confirmed that they don't have anything stored on Windows Phone 7 devices, but the last phone location, so as it can be used by the Find My Phone service, and that's that. RIM hasn't advised yet, but knowing how heavy on security its user base is, it would be surprising if it did store a file with everywhere you've been for a year on the phone, or on your computer.

"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," one of the security researchers has said, since the logfile content can be easily read with a simple program.

Cupertino has been probed for comment, but there is no official statement on the matter at present. Not that cell phone providers don't track your every move, and this information can then be turned over to the authorities (or dictators) on request, but why make things easy for anyone.

It might have something to do with the big push into cloud services Apple is supposedly prepping with iOS 5, but Congress members have sent letters to Steve Jobs, and the FCC have expressed their wish to investigate into the matter further. They might want Uncle Sam to be the only one knowing where you are at any given point in time. For now, just choose to encrypt your sync backups with iTunes, and keep your iPhone at bay.

source: Gizmodo, WMPowerUser, TheGuardian & iPhoneTracker

33 Comments
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posted on 21 Apr 2011, 06:27

1. fulminatrix (unregistered)


How is it with Symbian 3? Does it store any data, or communicate with Nokia with the same intensity as Android? I doubt it, but would like to be sure.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 18:12

28. Fanboys Suck (Posts: 609; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


Maybe if Apple stopped doing this with their phones, the battery would last longer? A lot longer...

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 06:35

2. IOS5 (unregistered)


Phone arena this an old news! And this not even true I'm not saying that cause I'm Apple fan boy or something but what I came to know that the whole phones has the same issue either Android, Symbian and the most famous about this issue El major BB.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 10:27 1

11. CNachoZz (unregistered)


No one, especially PhoneArena, cares about your objections. Be it old news or not, this website is still getting hits from people all around the world. even Apple fanboys like yourself. so tell you what, go to your bookmarks or favorites, scroll down to the link that says phonearena.com, right-click and press DELETE! go ahead and stick to the more "up-to-date" websites as you say. oh, and by the way, WE KNOW other OS have the same problem, but atleast they give you an option of opting out. have a nice day!

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:41

22. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


Look at the fan boyz pretending they don't mind, and other people shouldn't mind being tracked everywhere they go, just to back up apple. This is some kinda weird behavior.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 07:07

3. calamazoo (unregistered)


No, you are not an Apple fanboy, IOS5 :-) and the "whole phones" don't collect everywhere you've been by seconds in a file somewhere :-)

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 07:10

4. Androidluv (Posts: 65; Member since: 13 Jul 2010)


I can see conspiracy theorists having a field day with this one. Big Brother is watching you....mwahahahahaha!!!!

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 07:21 5

5. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


What are you talking about? My Android phone lets me opt out of this. I don't want to be tracked without even having a choice. Apple has stepped over the line. There are people who are going to be outraged by this. Any sick person can use this information to kidnap, stalk, attack, or whatever to anyone that has an iPhone. To do this to its customer base & not make them aware is awful. Apple has no right to know where you go or are! If I choose to buy an iPhone, I made that choice, but that doesn't mean I automatically make the choice to have them track me. This is absolutely crazy & just shows the lack of respect Apple has for their customers. What gives Apple the right to invade privacy is such a sneaky & unprofessional way. What did Apple think? No one would find out, or complain about this! Apple the best at invading your privacy! I don't like that Apple knows where my wife is at all times. I am just going to buy a new Android phone tonight & throw her iPhone in the sewer where it belongs. She is so disturbed by it you don't even know.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 10:55

12. apple fanboy (unregistered)


you have an android phone, so stfu idk why you guys panic about it, you kno those cute pics you take? the ones that ask if youd like it to remember where you took em at? yeah those are tracking you too, a lot of things track you nowadays, whatd you expect? its technology, if you really think someone would take time out of their day to go and stalk you or you really are that important and wanna protect your security, then buy a cheap old phone with no games, camera, etc, just saying if youre really that important, idk who would wanna follow your wife lol

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 13:38 2

15. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Apple fanboy I don't know if you’re a looser or if you have no friends or whatever you do in your little iCave. I am not saying my wife is going to get stalked or anything like that. I hope she is not that important. You should never jinx someone like that. Try to think of this, what if your ex & I don't mean your hand wants to find out where you have been. If they break into your iCave and get your location history, they can simply see your history pattern & all of a sudden presto meet you there. At that point they can do what they like to you. Can your iSheep brain handle that? You iSheep defend Apple even when they are violating you. You are just so into this Apple vs. Android garbage that you fail to see that Apple is wrong in all of this. That feature you speak of tracking my photos I turn off. Maybe your iSheep brain can't remember where you took the photo, that is why you need the iPhone to tell you. Well I don't I remember just fine. It's a simple thing, Google says can we track you yes or no? Apple just does it & that is not right. Now this might be too hard for your iSheep brain to compute but you do have a choice in life, with Apple they make the choice for you. Remember that! Dude you’re a clown.

posted on 22 Apr 2011, 14:57

31. apple fanboy (unregistered)


na man, dont get me wrong, i understand you, just that people, such as your wife, trip out over something so stupid like this, like big brother is watching, im just a blue collar worker, i mean if i was a federal agent, or someone making alot of money, then yeah, id want to protect myself completely, for me, its not such a big deal, not like someone is gonna stalk me around lol, but koo koo have your wife worry about nothing lol

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 07:51

6. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5921; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


This is going to become a huge issue for Apple/iOS. This is what happens when you get all arrogant and think that you know what is best for everyone.

RIM/BB just got a new ease on life....

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 08:17 2

7. messiah (Posts: 433; Member since: 19 Feb 2010)


So, reportedly the phone takes random pictures without user knowledge and also tracks your every movement . Sounds like one hell of a user privacy breach.

Somehow this will not effect stocks. Go figure. Way to go Apple for being above the law and untouchable.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:38

19. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


Its part of the same strategy:
Jobs is having iOS take pictures & log the locations of iPhone owners to use as blackmail. This way Apple can keep them buying Apple products and maintaining Apple fandom in the face of superior competition...

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 08:23 2

8. wowe1234 (unregistered)


Me too... I wanted an Iphone but now I will be getting an Android phone.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 09:48 2

9. PhoneLuver (Posts: 468; Member since: 05 Jul 2010)


Looks like I'll have to switch over to me Berry for a while.. At least until this issue has been resolved..

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 10:13 1

10. CNachoZz (unregistered)


LOL. Steve Jobs is the new AntiChrist!

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 11:49 2

13. Sniggly (Posts: 7177; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


*channeling Peter Falk now*

So let me see if I've got this straight...

Google collects some information like your current location, what you search for, what sites you visit, and does this all for a very transparent reason, which is to customize ads for you. They tell you this stuff gets shared, and you can opt out and turn that stuff off. The only way a full history of your whereabouts gets logged is if you use latitude all the time.time Apple fans tend to have a cow about this and call Google evil or whatever. Am I following things okay so far?

Apple is first caught pushing for the right to track and spy on anyone who jailbreaks their phone. Now they get caught red handed recording and storing users' entire location history in an unencrypted file which never goes away, information which does not serve any current discernible purpose to Apple or the carriers, but which can be quickly abused by anyone with dark intent. Everyone with a brain says that this is bullshit, but Apple ifanboys are brushing it off as no big deal, and saying that all other phones do the exact same thing.

Oh, and one more thing: this also comes in the wake of ifanboys crowing about how secure their phones are.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 13:22

14. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


And so does my navigation system on my car.

Let's be realistic. Who would burglarize my home just so they can open my itunes account from my laptop and find out where I've been going? It's not like Apple is posting all iphone users' whereabouts on a public website for everyone to view. If my iphone gets stolen or lost, there's a wipeout feature that erases all data in my iphone.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 13:40 1

16. Jaroniemo (Posts: 11; Member since: 21 Apr 2011)


Likely nobody would, however as it has already been mentioned, an upset or curious spouse or stalker have plenty of motivation to snag your iphone and check on your previous locations with such ease. The spouse doesn't pose much threat so long as your loyal but a stalker? I can definitely see them trying to get hold of your phone to see where your go throughout your week. And by the time you've decided your not going to find your phone and you decide to erase all data remotely, they can already know where you go every thursday night after work, and find you there.

I was contemplating going to the iphone so I could fully sync with my Mac and for the security I thought their operating system would provide vs that of an open source OS, but this is making me second guess myself. I have an EVO and I do have location data turned on, but at least I was given the option. I don't like the idea of being sneaky about it though. And maybe it was just a mistake, but that along with the iphone taking random pictures and not storing it in your photos files makes me wonder. I also don't think I could live without the customization Android offers, but we'll see what comes with future phones.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 14:04

17. Jaroniemo (Posts: 11; Member since: 21 Apr 2011)


and my girlfriend just made a good point. Its possible that all phones track you when you have location data turned off and store it somewhere, and probably even very likely, but they just haven't been caught. Everyone these days knows that if you have a mobile phone, you can be tracked, and half the android applications out there that don't seem to have any reason to know your location - have the ability to track your location. It shows right before you download.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:38

20. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


Unless they get the info from a computer, since it updates every time you sync.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:47

23. Sniggly (Posts: 7177; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Let's be realistic. Even if nothing bad ever happens to you as a result of this, Apple should have had no reason to keep this file secret. We don't know what Apple is doing with this data, except making sure that it's saved everywhere they can tell your device to save it. Let's be realistic, viruses and malware can be written for your iPhone and Mac, and that file retrieved as a result. Let's be realistic, your navigator does not store a precise history of where you've been since you've had it, in a file you were ever unlikely to access yourself. Let's be realistic, you reacted exactly as I predicted.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:01 1

18. MorePhonesThanNeeded (unregistered)


Ok people relax, normal phones can track your position because that is how you receive your cell service, without it might as well use a pay phone. Morons! Cellphones only update when you place a call or are receiving one or texts or things like that, but that still has to be triangulated between cell towers and gives a rough estimate. GPS systems on phones can relay your position in the off position as well the E911 law enforcement activation, but since it's a computer thing it can be hacked.

Big deal, just turn it off on the iPhone, the article does state that it's on by default. Now just turn it off and carry on with your life long pleasures. I don't own an iphone or any idevices, but they are pretty nifty devices. After a bad experience with itunes and quicktime wanting to take over me adding music to my mp3 player they can kiss my rear end. I hate having to add more proprietary programs in order to use something that should be simple to use, mp3 player is nothing but a damn portable hardrive with video screen and headphone jack. Why do I need to use iTunes to put music, videos and pretty much anything on it? It's about choice and I like being able to do things the normal way, works quickly and efficiently without adding new programs to my pc.

Anyway I digress, this is nothing to go crazy over unless Apple was remotely accessing this data from your phone, now that would be a problem.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:54

25. Sniggly (Posts: 7177; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Normal phones don't record, save, sync, and backup your entire location history. And you can't just turn off the software that does this.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:39 1

21. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


Why don't people just take the battery out. It can't track you if it is not pinging the towers. And turning it off doesn't do that.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 15:48 1

24. Sniggly (Posts: 7177; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


"Why don't you just take the battery out?"

Good joke, mate. I laughed. :)

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 16:10 2

26. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


I thought somebody might like that one lol.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 17:41

27. ThreeFourSeven (unregistered)


So let me get this right, when Google does tracking with your consent. iPhone fans yell foul but when Apple does it without you even knowing. They try to spin it in a good way. The world we live in today.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 22:13

29. LionStone (Posts: 465; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


A couple times when I accidentally left Latitude on, I got an email from Google informing me that my location is visible! Wow, how nice to let me know! Tsk,tsk bad Apple!

posted on 22 Apr 2011, 03:15

30. zerozero (unregistered)


Just dont get an iphone if you cant handle apples control and stop complaining because apple will not change it unless you are the president or Steve Jobs himself

posted on 07 May 2011, 13:35

32. iOS 4 update (unregistered)


When you agree to update with apple iOS 4+ then you agree to let apple track you and record everything you do but if you jailbreak you can stop it idk how but if you do please let me know.
Thanks in adv.

posted on 17 Sep 2011, 07:58

33. Путешествия|отд (unregistered)


You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!

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