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IOS Iphone Privacy Apple

Steve Jobs: 'We Don't Track Anyone' 373

fysdt writes "There has obviously been a lot of discussion about last week's disclosure that iOS devices are maintaining an easily-accessible database tracking the movements of users dating back to the introduction of iOS 4 a year ago. The issue has garnered the attention of US elected officials and has played fairly heavily in the mainstream press. One MacRumors reader emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking for clarification on the issue while hinting about a switch to Android if adequate explanations are not forthcoming. Jobs reportedly responded, turning the tables by claiming both that Apple does not track users and that Android does, while referring to the information about iOS shared in the media as 'false.'" Apple has now been hit with a class-action lawsuit over the location-tracking issue.
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Steve Jobs: 'We Don't Track Anyone'

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  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @05:37PM (#35935018)

    I know you're joking, but this is probably the simple answer.

    Apple, Facebook, Google, etc., all see the massive market that is the sale of data mined from consumer behavior. The next step after being caught collecting this data will probably be to claim that it's non-specific, it can't be used to identify you *personally*, and that you've agreed to all of this when you agreed to the TOS/EULA/whatever.

    I'm out of the smartphone biz as soon as my replacement phone arrives by UPS, personally... they're too expensive per month for someone who's usually near a PC to be used simply as ad-serving platforms

  • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @05:45PM (#35935176)

    AT&T, Verizon have much better information than the data stored on those iPhones which are not even transmitted to Apple. Why is there no outcry over the information that the mobile operators have?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 25, 2011 @05:50PM (#35935236)

    Here's what happens.

    Apple uses aGPS - Assisted GPS - which helps save battery life by making a good guess as to where the phone is before enabling GPS hardware. It makes this good guess by looking up the location of cell towers and wifi access points in a database. When the iPhone finds a wifi access point with a MAC address of X, it sends it to Apple, Apple's servers look that up in a database of known locations for access points, and the iPhone caches that information on the phone. I'm not sure if cell tower IDs require the same request to Apple to discover their location, but their ID and location is also cached on the phone. Each location is also timestamped, and if the user with an iPhone passes them again sometime later, the information is updated and the old location/timestamp is erased.

    So in total, the 'tracking' file which the world is claiming is a record of precisely where an iPhone user has been is merely a long-term cache of the MOST RECENT locations of detectable cell phone towers and wifi hotspots around the user.

    I wiped my iPhone clean, left it for 30 minutes on my desk, and consolidated.db soon contained several dozen cell towers and wifi spots covering a range of 40km to the east and 35 to the west, slightly fewer to the north and south as there's little population there. A circle approximately 70km wide showed where I was. You couldn't tell what suburb I was in, let alone house.

    The total cache doesn't appear to be cleared simply via time though, and year-old cached towers do appear in it, as long as you haven't been near their location in the year that's passed (and presumably if the ID was retired on the tower it'd never be released from the iPhone's database). Also, the file is very easy to access - by default it's freely readable with access to a login on a machine that syncs that iPhone. That's not good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 25, 2011 @06:47PM (#35935822)

    God. All you fanbois are stupid and retards in exactly the same way.

    Try to read the following, very slowly. Then try to understand. It's in English. After reading about 5 times, you will come a bit close to the subject. Then ask your mama to give you a cookie to be able to read one paragraph successfully.

    From the article which reported this issue:

    "Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. "Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," said Warden. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this."

    Your messiah has gotten himself into some uncharted territory here, and is caught with his pants down (and a queue of fanbois at his knees).

I've got a bad feeling about this.