April 21, 2011
iPhones and 3G iPads Record Your Location to a Secret File: Watch for New eDiscovery Demands
Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan revealed at the Where 2.0 conference this week that iPhones and 3G-enabled iPads keep track of where you go. The latitude and longitude coordinates along with a timestamp are recorded to a secret file on the device which is then backed up to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised. “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,” said Pete Warden. Watch for discovery demands in domestic relations proceedings and criminal investigations! I imagine if employers provide their employees with either device which is then synched to a workplace computer, they too have access to this data.
The recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the iPhone’s operating system, released in June 2010, meaning almost a year's worth of data could be stored already. "Warden and Allan point out that the file is moved onto new devices when an old one is replaced: 'Apple might have new features in mind that require a history of your location, but that’s our speculation. The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn’t accidental.' But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself." According to reports Apple hasn’t said why the file is created or whether the tracking can be prevented. See iPhone Keeps Record Of Everywhere You Go for details. [JH]
Comparatively, Google wipes the last octet of IP addresses after 9 months and after 18 months it anonymizes unique cookie data. Bing anonymizes after 6 months. There's nothing in the AP story that suggests the motivation behind the change. Yahoo famously outsourced its search to Microsoft, in what some saw as a desperate bid to remain relevant. Now that Facebook is cashing in on voluntarily supplied data for advertising purposes, the longer retention period may be an attempt to stay competitive. In any event, it's one thing to stake out a moral position on Internet tracking before Congress, and another to do business. 2945abc45 0422
Posted by: Android Tablet PCs | Apr 22, 2011 12:15:09 AM