Apple Q&A on tracking location data: “we don't do it,” not exactly
Did you know that your iPhone 4 istracking your location data? You might not have been informed upuntil a week ago when what seems to have been quietly discoveredmonths ago by a research group finally made it to the headlines. Butis it true? Apple claims that it's not. Not exactly.
“1. Why is Apple tracking thelocation of my iPhone?
Apple is not tracking the location ofyour iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
Wait, you must be slightly confusedafter it was confirmed that it not only tracks the position of youriPhone, but it does so in an unencrypted file, which is also backedup to your PC everytime you back up your handset. This means thateveryone in the know looking for it, might have a personal record ofyour travels for a whole year. The ability to have a complete recordof your location might sound cool at first, but having it unencryptedshould make it slightly disturbing even for the most liberal of usersout there.
“3. Why is my iPhone logging mylocation?
The iPhone is not logging yourlocation. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots andcell towers around your current location, some of which may belocated more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone”
Is Apple saying here that it's notrecording your location with absolute precision?Technically Cupertino is right – it only tracks the positionof cell towers, but the final result is arguably the same as you geta rather accurate estimate of your location through cell towertriangulation.
While knowing your position inenvironments where GPS would have taken a lot of time is undoubtedlybeneficial, the security issue remains unaddressed. Cupertino wasactually surprised to find out it's collecting a year worth ofyour iPhone's location, while it was only supposed to gatherinformation about a week. Luckily, that's going to change in anupcoming update:
“The reason the iPhone storesso 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 ofthis data.”
The irony of it all is that Steve Jobshimself stood up to quite convincingly make the point that iOS is absolutely secure. We would hate to blow this out ofproportion, but it seems that with all privacy measures, the amountof data collected could be endangered. Bugs are inevitable,but the bottom line is that it's honorable that Apple came up with anofficial statement and an update is now pending. And being reassuredabout 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 knowyour thoughts on the matter in the comments section.