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IOS Iphone Privacy Upgrades Apple

Apple Updating iOS To Address Privacy Concerns 318

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hype-of-the-month dept.
wiredmikey writes "[Apple] said that over the next few weeks it would release a software update for iOS that would reduce the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone, cease backing up the cache, and delete the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off. Additionally, Apple said that in the next major iOS software release the cache would be encrypted on the iPhone, though a timeline for that was not provided."
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Apple Updating iOS To Address Privacy Concerns

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  • Seems like a bug (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @10:31AM (#35952608)

    Not erasing the old logs doesn't seem like a bug.. it would've been caught by a single test case.

    You only put tests in for problems you think of. Deleting the log file altogether when you turn off location services, is a problem they simply didn't think about. If you think about it the guys writing that part of the code probably assumed that since the file was cached it would be truncated so leaving it around wouldn't matter...

    The rest of the time you aren't deleting the file, instead you are periodically truncating it - something beyond a single test case, and requiring a long period of time to elapse. That part seems also like it could easily be oversight.

    To my mind they probably just thought keeping a record of cell towers was not a big deal, because it was not an exact location log... although just from a performance aspect you'd think they would not want that file growing too large.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @10:35AM (#35952654)

    Its a global consumer and user behavior monitoring device, with a phone tacked on.

  • Re:Moving on (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @10:38AM (#35952712)

    Sounds like Apple is taking steps to improve their system and give the paranoid users a easy opt out. Now the question is what are the other phone manufactures doing with their location systems? Especially those who log your data to the cloud?

    That's a good point. Given their relatively short response and turn-around time on this, I'm wondering if Apple sees the possibility here for turning a negative situation into a positive. Don't get me wrong - I think Apple (and other vendors) should've been doing this from the get-go - but it will be interesting to see (for example) how Google responds, given that their business model is to own as much data about you as possible.

  • Re:Bug? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IAmGarethAdams (990037) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @10:39AM (#35952716)

    As Phil Karlton once said [simonwillison.net]

    There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things

  • Re:Fail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @10:47AM (#35952800) Homepage Journal

    No, more probably.

    The time stamp is a function call. Now you want to do the function call AND then strip out information. That would take more power.
    Not that it would even be measurable.

    *Under the hood, when you pass options to only return a subset of the time stamp, it gets it all, then truncates the information.

  • Re:Bug? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @11:35AM (#35953472) Journal
    From Apple's own flack piece [apple.com]...

    "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, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements). These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple."
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @11:43AM (#35953606) Journal
    This file... Apparently, the timestamped location log database file was a locally-generated composite of RF signals the phone received, and nearby locations that were provided from Apple's database(Requests for which, of course, would in no way inform Apple of the user's location at a given time...). That particular file doesn't seem to have been sent back, in large part because much of it would be redundant.

    However, particularly in points 3(linked above) and 8(following) of their apologia, they admit to collecting location data in a previously undisclosed way.

    "8. What other location data is Apple collecting from the iPhone besides crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data? Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years."

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