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Apple: "We must Have Comprehensive Location Data" 556

An anonymous reader writes "Apple's iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and iPad models are keeping track of consumers whereabouts. Mac computers running Snow Leopard and even Windows computers running Safari 5 are being watched. But the question is why? 'To provide the high quality products and services that its customers demand, Apple must have access to the comprehensive location-based information,' Apple says."
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Apple: "We must Have Comprehensive Location Data"

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  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:46AM (#35921308)

    Your users or world governments?

  • Still no answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:47AM (#35921324) Homepage

    Still no answer to why they need that information.

  • by infosinger ( 769408 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:57AM (#35921410)

    My apps don't need to know where I was last year.

  • by perbert ( 241785 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:58AM (#35921420) Homepage

    Your users or world governments?


  • To unclear (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:59AM (#35921438)
    Apple should have said what this really is about: Your iDevice can't determine its position by using the MAC addresses of nearby WiFi points unless Apple knows the locations of those WiFi points. And Apple's servers can't tell your iDevice where it is right now, unless the iDevice gives them the information that Apple's servers need to determine the location of your iDevice.

    I wonder if all those people who helped OpenStreetMap are aware that OpenStreetMap knows the exact location where they were when they collected the data.

    On the other hand, there is a website know where you can enter the MAC address of a router, and it will give you the location of that router, based on data on Google's servers. I hope Apple doesn't allow the same thing. I would hope even more that Google would put a stop to this. According to what Apple says, this is a black box: Only when the location software in the iPhone OS asks for the information about routers that are physically nearby will it receive location information. And in that case, anyone with a working GPS could have the same information anyway, so this is no privacy breach.
  • by Stan92057 ( 737634 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:00PM (#35921450)
    For them and there partners to sell us stuff they think we want or need for our own good. I don't own an apple anything so this doesn't affect me directly but it will when every corporation starts to keep a track of us. Until the day comes when congress puts a leash on theses spying tactics,its only going to get worse. And as history teaches us it will take an act of congress to stop it. I don't want to be followed for advertising purposes. thats a service for THEM not us. anything like this must be opt in as we see it takes security experts to even find out there following us.
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:22PM (#35921654) Journal
    Obviously many apps for the iPhone REQUIRE location information because that's the whole point of the app.

    They need to know my current location. Period. My every step for the past six months, not so much.

    Not to say I can't think of uses that do need to record your movements (apps like jogging logs come to mind), but those don't apply to the vast majority of people and, once installed, can do their own - user initiated - tracking.

    If you feel differently, then click the "don't allow" button when prompted.

    Does the iPhone actually have such a button (in general, not just relating to tagging pictures)? If so, I would agree with you that this amounts to nothing but clueless end-users. I do not suspect that as the case, however.
  • by schnell ( 163007 ) <(ten.llenhcs) (ta) (em)> on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:36PM (#35921762) Homepage

    Why on earth would you have iTunes on a work computer?

    You may need to have it if your employer uses iOS products. iTunes is required to activate an iPhone (or iPad), as well as for backing up the on-device storage and doing certain other things. I have a work-issued iPhone and I'm actually required to have iTunes on my work PC for syncing the iPhone and loading on corporate-signed apps from outside the public app store.

  • Re:What? Me Worry? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NFN_NLN ( 633283 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:37PM (#35921772)

    I couldn't care less if Apple, a private investigator, or the US government knew my precise location 24/7. I'm not cheating on my wife, I'm not wanted by the FBI, and I'm not hiding from the IRS. So why would I give a shit?

    You're obviously a moron so no amount of logic is going to change your mind. After all the information is already out there and you've chosen to ignore it so far.

    Once everyone is logged and cataloged then police don't have to do their jobs anymore. Defense will change from "innocent until proven guilty" to "guilty until proven innocent based on a preponderance of the evidence". It has already happened, the most famous being finger prints. Finger prints are unique but matches are usually based on a few key markers. There have been plenty of cases where paper pushing monkeys blindly accept these key markers in cases to convict people. They had to hire professionals at their own expense to fight the system.

    I just hope your iPhone whereabouts a linked to a high profile murder with no other suspects. The police will be pressured to get a conviction and with no other leads they will ride you like a $12 hooker trying to get you to confess... guilty or not. Sure you will most likely be found innocent, but that's after thousands of dollars in legal bills and having your like turned upside down.

    The police government employees AND they're lazy. I wouldn't want them having this information. It's probably the first database they'll mine for leads rather than getting off their asses.

  • OR, don't buy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:43PM (#35921814)

    How about a simpler solution: DON'T BUY if you don't like it!

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:45PM (#35921828) Homepage

    So Apple is beginning to reply over this blackeye. Excellent. Other posters have asked "who is the customer?" and that is a perfectly legitimate question. There ought at least have been some sort of consumer opt-out ala "DO_NOT_TRACK".

    But beyond that, even granting _arguendo_ legitimacy to targetted advertising, what possible useful purpose do the detailed timestamps serve? A file with locations (when different from previous) would be equally as useful. Timestamps are for tracking & snooping, not local service advertising. If that were even ethical.

    This argument is relatively important to Apple -- they might well be accused of "unauthorized access to computing systems" (aka cracking) unless they can show the tracking is somehow essential to the access they have been authorized (OS & app services). Just because they're a mfr/OS vendor does not grant them automatic permission to do what they want. The law is not written that way, and penalizes those whose use exceeds the owner's authorization.

  • by Minupla ( 62455 ) <> on Sunday April 24, 2011 @01:07PM (#35921992) Homepage Journal

    I believe what the OP was referring to was: []

    In this case it was Google street view cars driving by. obviously in this case the people's whose privacy was impacted had no opportunity to agree to a EULA

    Now I will agree that the cases may be completely different, but I think thats what the OP was getting at.

  • by flappinbooger ( 574405 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @01:26PM (#35922134) Homepage

    Two uses for that data: 1. Advertisements 2. Police

    and of course the 3rd one that Apple do not want to think about: 3. Thieves can use it, to know when your house is empty.

    It's not this file with their GPS that will help thieves, it's those stupid apps that post to Facebook and Twitter saying "BillyBob is at Starbucks on the corner of Main and Market with SusieQ!" Whee! That means BillyBob isn't HOME and I know from a status update last week that he has a new 50" plasma he just got from BestBuy! And from all the PICTURES he posts on his profile I have a workable map of his HOUSE and I know he lives ALONE and only has a lazy cat and not a vicious dog.

    How many crooks will go through the trouble to leverage this file when there is so much low hanging fruit? None. The eerie thing about this file is a) What is it REALLY used for? I mean today. Advertising my ass. and b) Potential use of this data. To me it smells just like ISP log files and Dropbox back door encryption keys.

    Each day I see things come about that makes the "fictional" big brother tracking technology shown on movies and tv like Enemy of the State and 24 look a little less like fiction.

    Apparently having an iPhone will make it conceivable to know not only where you are now, but where you have been. Every day. For a long time. Couple this with those cell phone analyzers the Michigan police reportedly have. Think about it. []

    "But if you don't have anything to hide, then you have nothing to worry about". Ok, what about the reports I see where the TSA somehow finds out about outspoken people who complain publicly about the TSA? What about how they have people who watch for people IN THE LINES who are frustrated with being herded like cattle and groped like whores? []

    If you have no opinion AND have nothing to hide THEN you have nothing to worry about. God help us.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @01:35PM (#35922182)

    I didn't say Google wasn't transmitting your location back to Google. I said they weren't doing it secretly.

    You can make a setting right there on you Android phone to turn off location information.

    There is NO EQUIVALENT in the iPhone.

    Come on! Stop with this argument that just because others are doing it Openly and Above board, its ok for Apple to do it on the sneak.
    Would you accept that same argument from you child?

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @02:00PM (#35922382)

    I'm sorry, but you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy if you're broadcasting it in clear text for anybody to intercept. The reality is that no matter how they choose to spin it, it's really easy to accidentally intercept communications when they're not encrypted.

    Next thing you'll tell me is that it's illegal to tape notes for yourself in public because somebody in the background might accidentally be audible while you're making a note.

  • by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @02:39PM (#35922694)

    Are you dense? The Wi-Fi standard allows for the encryption of payload, while the headers are always sent in the clear, regardless of whether users secured their networks or not.

    Most people were not aware of this, and rightfully thought that setting their networks to be "secure" was enough to provide privacy. These people had a very reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Google took advantage of this fact and logged SSID's, MAC and IP addresses of every wireless network it encountered, regardless of security status. It then used this information to map the precise location of each transmitter. Moreover, this information is used to detect the location of any user who happens to come from such networks, and all done without the consent or even knowledge of most users.


  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @02:57PM (#35922840)

    I assume that you have never owned an iPhone.

    You assume wrongly.

    The point is, that setting does not prevent the iPhone from continuing to build the tracking database which it never over-writes or deletes.

    You would expect a phone to keep track of its current position, and maybe the last wifi beacon it saw. This makes geolocation faster.
    But a years worth (or more) of historical tracking is pointless.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @03:10PM (#35922930) Journal

    Car Driving down the road collects data is sees (hears) while driving down the road, and you complain about "data" that is spewing forth from random houses being "private"?

    Funny world you live in. Don't want your data spewing forth, then don't use WIFI or at least encrypt it.

    Don't like those options and you want everyone to ignore your public data? Yeah, good luck with that.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @05:28PM (#35923926)
    Try taking a photograph of a landmark building with an expensive looking camera. Make sure it's a rental, because the cops might break it while you're resisting arrest.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @05:40PM (#35924014)

    How is this acceptable to the myriad people who expected privacy from setting the secure bit on their routers?

    "Stupid is a stupid does, sir." You get what you pay for, and if you can't be bothered to learn the rudiments of the technology you use, you shouldn't be using it. And "privacy" is a loaded term: Google wasn't cracking anybody's system, wasn't logging private information, wasn't breaking any encryption, they were logging plaintext broadcasts.

    If you don't want even that minimal information tracked then turn off your goddamn router, or encase your premises in screen wire. And in any event, this is about Apple: we've already beat Google to death on this one.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"