(PCMAG.COM) I’m surprised everyone is not up in arms over the revelation that the iPhone tracks its users and stores the data in a secret file that is carried to the personal computer. The Guardian blew the lid off this story today. According to The Guardian:
Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronized. If you are looking for digital Portfolio app, visit https://www.classdojo.com/studentstories/ for more information.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner’s movements using a simple program.
I don’t know about you, but the fact that this feature exists on an iPhone is a deal-killer. I wouldn’t use such a device. It’s not that I care if someone knows where I’ve been. I just do not like the idea of being tracked like a dog. Apparently, the researchers did not find a similar program on an Android or other smartphones.
There appears to be no explanation for this feature, but I have a few guesses.
The obvious reason for this data is to reverse engineer individual patterns, so if you purchase marketing services, it can make some determinations about how to sell us more junk. Are we in and out of cafe’s all day? Do we drive around a lot? It’s all good data.
The researchers did not discover that the phone is reporting the data to HQ, but I’m sure it’s doing it somehow.
Unlike the cell tower information that the police can access, this sort of information could be retrieved by anyone through accessing the PC or Mac where the info is transferred. Thus, patterns of behavior could be used to benefit robbers looking to burglarize your home, or kidnappers looking to grab someone. Not to get too grisly, but assassins would love access to this sort of thing. “Yes, he is always on Pine Road at 9 AM.”
Spouses could use the data to deconstruct suspicious movement, and your boss could use the data to show you have been consistently late to work on Tuesdays—by 10 minutes every day.
There is no end to the dubious usefulness of this sort of tracking information. And it could be argued that drug traffickers could be ferreted out, but few are dumb enough to use an iPhone in the first place. They use disposable cheapies.
While the security researchers have discovered this “feature,” there is no clear way to get rid of it. An interesting iPhone Tracker Web site has cropped up that allows you to look at your data (see where you’ve been!). There’s no real way to prevent the phone from building the database, but the site suggests encrypting your backup, so snoops cannot access the data from your PC.
This is an out-and-out scandal, as far as I’m concerned. And I’m certain that more than a few screenwriters will use this as a mechanism for an upcoming Law & Order or CSI episode.
Users should demand answers from Apple immediately and request that the feature be removed. Nobody wants this. And I do not see it as something that has been used to bring down any drug cartels, either.
It’s just another pathetic part of this surveillance society that we’ve meekly accepted. Thank you, Steve Jobs.