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Iphone Privacy Apple

iPhone and Location: Don't Panic 362

Posted by timothy
from the ok-ok-ok dept.
stonemirror writes "There's a lot of blind panic out there over the discovery of a database file on the iPhone which contains dated location information. Without actually looking at the data, a lot of folks have proclaimed that the 'iPhone is tracking your every move.' I actually did take a look at the data, and it's not doing anything like that."
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iPhone and Location: Don't Panic

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  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:56PM (#35899606) Homepage

    The most interesting thing in the article is the last sentence:

    [UPDATE: Exactly the same kind of information seems to be getting stored on Android phones. Here's an application you can use to dump it out...]

    So Apple users know they're not alone ;-)

  • Perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:03PM (#35899704) Homepage
    It's interesting that on /. when the Fukushima reactor issue began, there appeared to be two camps forming: one that said, "maybe we should be concerned about this,' and another that said, "fucking libtards are going to use this as an excuse to push for tougher limitations on the expansion of nuclear power in other countries!"

    With this issue, the two camps appear to be coming down to, "this may not be a huge issue; hopefully Apple will begin truncating this file with an upcoming update" and "fucking Apple fanbois will take anything that His Steveness rams up their rear! This is an outrage!"

    It'd be interesting to track the outrage quotient on various issues and see where various /. users land on that chart. I wonder how many people who are vigorously defending nuclear power are busting a blood vessel over this iPhone thing.
  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:07PM (#35899764)
    Apple fanboi's have a weird insecurity and chronic need to feel like they are better or, at the very least, the same so I am not surprised they tried to find something like this. The fact remains that the iPhone has far more data (month vs. week) that is stored over Android does. Furthermore, Apple routinely touts themselves as consumer privacy friendly and the "most secure". Obviously keeping a month's worth of cell tower and wifi locations you were in proximity to without letting the user know ahead of time proves that they aren't as secure nor as privacy friendly as they claim. Nice work.
  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:12PM (#35899840)

    No, but it is interesting that another platform is doing similar things. Understanding why it happens on Android may provide insight into why it's happening on iOS, as well.

  • What is it for? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:18PM (#35899924) Homepage Journal
    The hysterics might go away a bit if Apple would tell us what it is for, and why it is plaintext. My concern is that if the data is being collected just because it can be, like when google stole everyones email using their cameras car, that is a pretty silly thing to do. If it is just a collection of access points, the tell us. My fear is that Apple is not telling because it is a basis for some sort of scary experimental feature that they want to keep secret for the time being.
  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:38PM (#35900198) Journal

    No, it's called "apple is innocent focus on android I'm an apple fanboy", to some degree (and not always). The "oh but android!" argument is seriously getting old.

    Meanwhile, all cellphones have been doing this for years, and people rightfully can and should be concerned if they are not aware that their location is potentially trackable at almost any time you have a cellphone on. However, to act like "we can just patch so that it's not stored on your phone" doesn't answer the "guess what: it's still available" aspect.

    Whether that information is being allowed to be obtained without a subpoena or search warrant however, is also a question to be asked.

  • by Duncan J Murray (1678632) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:47PM (#35900344) Homepage

    TFA seems only to prove that Apple is not 'tracking your every move' in the literal sense, they are just 'tracking your every move within the accuracy a phone on standby is able to, aggregated to a weekly basis'. Oh, well that's ok, if it's that inaccurate, surely my privacy isn't threatened! The writer is an apologist for Apple - after all, why end it with 'well if that argument didn't convince, someone else is doing it too! If everyone's doing it, it must be right!' (majorly paraphased).

    People are also concluding that this data isn't 'phoned home'. But I don't believe they have the sourcecode for the software on their iphone, and if they did, that they have looked through it.

    And as for the parent - your 'cell'phone provider needs to know where you are in order to supply your 'cell'. Not saying that justifies them keeping a record of it, but on the other hand, your bank has a record of all the transactions you have made involving your bank account. I'm not sure what justification a cellphone maker has to record your whereabouts.

  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:49PM (#35900364)

    It's more than likely a file that contains the location of cells in the area? for aiding quick start positioning?

    Either way, it doesn't matter since even if the phone doesn't have records of where you have been the phone company does.

    The same information is also gathered by Android, so Google fucked up as well:

    https://github.com/packetlss/android-locdump [github.com]

  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:00PM (#35900496)

    So what you are saying is - "Look. X is raping you. Why are you complaining about Y?"

    Apple apologists have no bounds.

  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:21PM (#35900748)

    Personal intrusion? your cellphone provider has a nice database of your every move that is accurate. They've had this for years. THAT is what you need to be outraged about, not a file that is safely on your phone that is not sent to anyone.

    The people who run the cell networks have this data. The cell towers know where you are. Apple does not run a cell network. They just make the phone and leave it to AT&T or Verizon to provide network service. Therefore, it's possible this file provides Apple a way to track location data without owning the cell network. The same could also apply to Google's Android, of course.

    If the data is inaccurate, that could be because this system is buggy -- maybe it doesn't get the attention and polish that advertised shiny features receive. It could be because it doesn't need to be accurate to serve its purpose. It could be for any number of reasons. The important part is that none of this answers the question of what the actual intention is. None of this answers the question: if it is a benevolent, innocuous feature, why isn't it listed as a selling point? That above all other things is what creates the suspicion, IMO.

  • Re:Anecdotal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat (756137) on Friday April 22, 2011 @07:15AM (#35905278)

    It's not an invasion of privacy if your privacy hasn't been invaded. No-one has access to this file unless you fail to lock your phone, or fail to protect your PC.

    Unless you get stopped by the Michigan State Police with your phone in your possession. This was covered here a short time ago.

    http://slashdot.org/story/11/04/19/2231240/Michigan-Police-Could-Search-Cell-Phones-During-Traffic-Stops [slashdot.org]

    The more data your phone collects, the more you risk giving to the State. All I carry is a disposable phone with the battery removed in the glove box for emergencies.

    Of course, one *could* open the phone and disconnect pin 2 and pin 3 (the 'Data +' and 'Data -' pins) of the micro-USB connector. They can't slurp what they can't connect to. The phone would charge normally, but unless you install a secret/internal switch to re-enable the pins you won't get any data in or out of that connector.

    When their toy fails to steal your data and they question you, just say "You broke my PHONE with that stupid toy!?!? What, are you gonna wreck my car or torch my house with some other new toys there, "Inspector Gadget"? I hope your department's budget can take the hit for a new phone!".

    It's still a new device and patrol officers are likely unfamiliar enough with the finer points of the new concepts, equipment, & techniques involved here that they may just suddenly be in a hurry to be done with you and send you on your way in such a scenario.

    I wonder when someone will publish a "Surviving The Police State For Dummies" how-to book.

    "Interesting times", indeed.

    Strat

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