iPhone4 secretly stores every location you ever visit

Discussion in 'Off Topic Forum' started by Beardface, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. Beardface
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    Beardface Member

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    Researchers: Apple's iPhone Keeps Track Of Every Little Place You Go : The Two-Way : NPR

    Researchers: Apple's iPhone Keeps Track Of Every Little Place You Go


    01:08 pm
    April 20, 2011



    by Eyder Peralta


    [​IMG] Enlarge O'Reilly This map shows all the location points collected during a trip from Washington, D.C. to New York City.


    Researchers at the University of Exeter discovered that iPhones using the latest operating system keeps detailed records of where you've been.
    At the O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference, Peter Warden, of Data Science Toolkit, and Alasdair Allan, a researcher at University of Exeter, said they were looking to visualize information on phones. It might reveal things you didn't even know you were carrying around said Warden.
    On their iPhones, they found a file simply titled "consolidated.db" and it had a series of latitude and longitudes. Perhaps, the researchers thought, the phone would store a week's worth of locations for the pictures they had taken. Then they took the data and put it on a map and were surprised with what they found.
    "It turned out to be pretty much a year's worth of data for every cell [tower] that we've been through since we upgraded to iOS4," said Warden.
    At the O'Reilly site, Allan writes:
    The cell phone companies have always had this data, but it takes a court order to access it. Now this information is sitting in plain view, unprotected from the world. Beyond this, there is even more data that we have yet to look at in depth.
    For example, in my own case I (Alasdair) discovered a list of hundreds of thousands of wireless access points that my iPhone has been in range of during the last year.
    "Apple has made it possible for almost anybody — a jealous spouse, a private detective — with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been," Warden told The Guardian.
    Just how detailed is this information? Here's a visualization of data from an iPhone that went from Washington, D.C. to New York City via Amtrak:
    from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

    Paidcontent, a tech news site, reports the researchers looked at other phones, including Android devices, but couldn't find similar information. The researchers say there is no evidence that the data is being transmitted to Apple or any other company. When you switch phones, however, that file is copied to the new iPhone.
    Paidcontent adds:
    Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: "This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone's life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage."
    In some ways, this shouldn't be surprising. Back in June of 2010, Apple updated its privacy policy to include a paragraph that allows Apple and "partners and licensees" to collect and store user location data. According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple says that data remains anonymous, but "analysts have shown, however, that large, specific data sets can be used to identify people based on behavior patterns."
    In that piece The Times muses that Apple might be integrating location data to its advertising system, "for instance, to help local shops sell coupons to users in the neighborhood."
    If you're really interested in getting into the guts of this, O'Reilly has posted a 20-minute video of the researchers explaining how they found what they found; that's below. But they've also released a piece of free software that will take this info from your iPhone and map it for you.
    Source: YouTube


    Update at 1:21 p.m. ET: When concern about its new privacy policy surfaced last summer, Apple sent two Congressmen a 32-page response to explain the change. Apple said they take great care to protect users' privacy and it allows users to turn-off location based services. On an iPhone, they point out, you go to your settings and turn off location services.
  2. hookbill
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    hookbill Premium Member Premium Member

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    Moved to off topic. Please don't post apple post in a Droid thread. Thank you.
  3. pc747
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    pc747 DF Administrator Staff Member Rescue Squad

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    By the way android does the same thing, in fact any us carrier can submit transcripts of calls and texts to the govt at any time. And I am sure that transcipt may have where or what exact tower you fed off of so to narrow down your location. When I caled vzw tech support about my 3g dropping off they wanted to know the exact street I lost a signl so they know which tower to check out.
  4. pc747
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    pc747 DF Administrator Staff Member Rescue Squad

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    from bgr: Your smartphone is tracking you, and you said it was okay | BGR

    Your smartphone is tracking you, and you said it was okay

    By: Andrew Munchbach | Apr 20th, 2011 at 03:23PM
    View Comments
    Filed Under: Opinions
    [​IMG]
    The Internet nearly exploded this morning after O’Reilly filed a report indicating that users of Apple’s iPhone and 3G iPad were being tracked. A file, found in the filesystem of the aforementioned devices running iOS 4 or higher, contains a list of time-stamped GPS coordinates that correlate with the device’s location. The only issue I have with Apple’s methodology is that the file used to store said locations is unencrypted. Am I apathetic about my personal privacy? No, not at all. So why don’t I care? Because I agreed to let Apple do this. And you if you have a smartphone of any kind, there is a high likelihood you did too. Read on to see exactly what you agreed to.
    From Apple’s iPhone Terms of Service:
    Apple and its partners and licensees may provide certain services through your iPhone that rely upon location information. To provide and improve these services, where available, Apple and its partners and licensees may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use your location data, including the real-time geographic location of your iPhone, and location search queries. The location data and queries collected by Apple are collected in a form that does not personally identify you and may be used by Apple and its partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. By using any location-based services on your iPhone, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve such products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time by going to the Location Services setting on your iPhone and either turning off the global Location Services setting or turning off the individual location settings of each location-aware application on your iPhone. Not using these location features will not impact the non location-based functionality of your iPhone. When using third party applications or services on the iPhone that use or provide location data, you are subject to and should review such third party’s terms and privacy policy on use of location data by such third party applications or services.

    From Google’s Privacy Policy:
    Google offers location-enabled services, such as Google Maps and Latitude. If you use those services, Google may receive information about your actual location (such as GPS signals sent by a mobile device) or information that can be used to approximate a location (such as a cell ID).
    [...]
    In addition to the above, we may use the information we collect to:
    • Provide, maintain, protect, and improve our services (including advertising services) and develop new services; and
    • Protect the rights or property of Google or our users.
    Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:
    • We have your consent. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.
    • We provide such information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons for the purpose of processing personal information on our behalf. We require that these parties agree to process such information based on our instructions and in compliance with this Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
    • We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law.
    If Google becomes involved in a merger, acquisition, or any form of sale of some or all of its assets, we will ensure the confidentiality of any personal information involved in such transactions and provide notice before personal information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy.

    From Motorla’s BLUR Privacy Statement:
    Motorola may also passively collect information (i.e. without you knowing) from you, or your device, including without limitation, your wireless phone number, location-based information obtained from your device’s wireless network, GPS transmitter or software, or other location-based software, the type of device or mobile network you are using, your device’s IMEI number or SIM card ID, your contacts, calendar, account credentials and settings, and preferences, or other personally identifiable information.
    [...]
    The information collected by Motorola is used a) to operate the MOTOBLUR Software and Services, including interaction with third party social networking sites and other third party websites and services; b) to provide support for the MOTOBLUR Software, including without limitation, system restores and back ups, location-based services, remote diagnostics and troubleshooting, device location, remote erase, and any other services performed, provided or enabled by or through the MOTOBLUR Software; c) as described in the MOTOBLUR Terms of Service and Software License Agreement; d) to serve advertisements directly to your Device; e) for other Motorola business purposes, including without limitation, to send you information about the MOTOBLUR Software or Services, your account, or about Motorola or other products and services (whether those of Motorola or a third party) which Motorola believes you may find of interest, to resolve disputes and collect fees owed, to comply with applicable laws, and to help Motorola customize and/or improve the MOTOBLUR Service for all of our customers; and f) as otherwise described at the time such information is collected.

    From HTC’s Sense Privacy Statement:
    To provide location-based services, HTC and its partners may collect, use, transmit, process, store and share precise location data about your device. Location information may be transmitted even when you are not using a third party location-sharing service. This information may include but is not limited to your device ID and name, device type and real-time geographic location of your device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by HTC and its partners to provide and improve location-based products and services. You may also be able to submit to HTC location data such as “Points of Interest,” voice notes to share with friends, and other information. HTC may also supplement the information it collects with information obtained from other companies. HTC may share geographic location data with application providers when you opt in to use their location-based services. By enabling or using the location-based services or features (such as displaying your phone location, posting Footprints, etc.) and applications that depend on location-based information, you agree and consent to HTC collecting, using, transmitting, processing, storing and sharing information related to your account and the devices registered to your account for purposes of providing such location-based services or features to you. You may withdraw this consent by turning off the “HTC Locate” function in the location settings (as applicable) on your device. Some location-based services that HTC offers, such as the “HTC Locate” feature and remote lock or remote erase functions, require your Personal Information for the feature to work. If you use third party services that use or provide location data as part of the Service, you are subject to and should review the third party’s terms and privacy policy regarding the third party’s use of location data. Location data provided by the Service is not intended to be relied upon. HTC and its partners do not guarantee the availability, accuracy, completeness, reliability, or timeliness of location data or any other data displayed by the Service. The “HTC Locate” feature is intended for your personal use only to locate, send a message to, or remote lock or remote erase your own device. The location-based services are not intended or suitable for use as an emergency locator system.

    From RIM’s License Agreement:
    In addition to other personal information described in this Agreement, when You use Your Handheld Product or enable data services or location-based functionality, Handheld Product location information (including, without limitation, GPS information, carrier ID, tower ID and signal strength of visible WiFi or cell towers) may be communicated to RIM Group of Companies. RIM Group of Companies may use such information to provide You with locationbased services, including, without limitation, services facilitating the sharing of Your Handheld Product location information with other persons, including without limitation, Third Party Services used with Your BlackBerry Solution. You should give due consideration before agreeing to have Your personal information disclosed to other persons. We may also use such information to create data in which Your personal information has been aggregated or made anonymous, and may use it to provide location-sensitive advertising.

    From Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Privacy Statement:
    On Windows Phones, “location services” refers to the phone software and online service that is used to determine the approximate location of your phone and provide location to the applications you allow to access your phone’s location.
    If you allow an application to access your phone’s location, each time that application requests location, information about nearby cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, and available Global Positioning System (GPS) information may be collected by Microsoft’s location service and used to help determine the approximate location of your phone.
    For example, if you have Wi-Fi enabled on your phone, the Media Access Control (MAC) addresses and signal strength of Wi-Fi access points available to your phone will be collected by Microsoft’s location service. If you are connected to a cellular network, identifiers of the cell towers available to your phone will be collected. If GPS is available, the latitude, longitude, speed, and direction of the phone provided by the GPS may be collected. Again, Microsoft collects this information only if you allow an application to access your phone’s location.
    Based on the information received, the location service will determine your phone’s approximate location and provide it to the requesting application. The location service provides the latitude, longitude, speed, direction, and altitude of your phone to requesting applications. It does not provide the requesting application information about available cell towers or Wi-Fi access points or any phone identifiers.
    Microsoft recommends that you review the privacy policies and practices of the applications that you allow to access your phone’s location to learn about how they use the location information they request.
    The information your phone sends to our location service when an application asks for location includes a unique ID that is randomly generated and stored on your phone. The unique ID does not contain any personal information and is not used to identify you. This unique ID is stored by our location service for a limited time in order to distinguish location requests, which helps us deliver more accurate and reliable location. We do not store any information that could directly identify you, such as your name, phone number, email address, or address with the information received by our location service and we don’t use any information received by our location service to identify or contact you. The information received and stored by our location service only is used to provide location to requesting applications and to update and improve the accuracy, efficiency, and reliability of the location service.

    From HP/Palm’s Privacy Statement:
    Personal information is information directly identifiable to you, such as your name, address, email address, and phone number, as well as other non-public information associated with such information. Some examples of how we collect and use personal information include:
    • On-Device Services. If you use services we provide through your Palm mobile device, we will collect information relevant to providing the services and as you designate. For example:
      • Remote Diagnostics and Updates. When you use a remote diagnostics or software update service, we will collect information related to your device (including serial number, diagnostic information, crash logs, or application configurations) as required to help identify and troubleshoot issues, and to provide such services.
      • Back-up and Restore. When you use a back-up and restore service for data stored on your device, we will collect the contacts, calendar, memo, tasks, and other information on your device to help enable retrieval of that data when restoring or replacing your device.
      • Location Based Services. When you use location based services, we will collect, transmit, maintain, process, and use your location and usage data (including both real time geographic information and information that can be used to approximate location) in order to provide location based and related services, and to enhance your device experience.
    [...]
    We generally use the personal information we maintain about you to provide you with the products and services you request; customize your experience; troubleshoot and provide updates; measure interest in our products and services; provide offers that might interest you; resolve disputes; collect fees owed; detect and protect against error, fraud and criminal activity; comply with applicable law, regulations, legal processes or enforceable governmental requests; enforce our terms of use and for other legitimate business purposes; and as otherwise described to you at the time of collection.
    2. Sharing and Transfer
    We may share, disclose, or transfer your personal information as follows:
    • To Palm affiliates and subsidiaries to support business operations and sales, marketing, and customer support processes;
    • To third party service providers and suppliers acting on our behalf to provide products or services
    • to you; and to other third parties for purposes you have allowed.
  5. knighthonor
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    knighthonor New Member

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    Wow. Seems like the legend of the "Mark" has already started.

    NWO

    Sent from my DROIDX using DroidForums
  6. cpjr
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    cpjr New Member

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    Ohhh do I get tired of Apple hate threads.
  7. Beardface
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    Beardface Member

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    The difference between this and what Android does is 2-fold.

    1. Apple secretly uploads this information to your computer automatically each time you sync to iTunes. This is not some file stored only in the phones.

    2. You do not have the ability to turn off the tracking like you do with the Android OS.

    Pretty shady, considering this was never disclosed by Apple, and they have yet to comment on these allegations.
  8. *22899
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    *22899 Premium Member Premium Member

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    Duh.................. We have been being tracked sense the first time you checked out a library book. So what, I just hope they can stomach the dirty stuff im looking at.
  9. icculusX
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    icculusX Premium Member Theme Developer Premium Member

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    That's iCrazy... saw it on the news earlier. So what if I keep my GPS shut off, like I do until I need navigation..?
  10. hookbill
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    hookbill Premium Member Premium Member

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    Makes two of us. Specially when the topic is really ridiculous.
  11. icculusX
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    icculusX Premium Member Theme Developer Premium Member

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    Did I miss somehting, how is this topic ridiculous? I don't look at it as an apple hate thread but some new found info. It was on Fox News too (which I hate watching, i'll just clarify ha).
  12. jroc
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    jroc Well-Known Member

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    ^Yea...I dont really see it as a hate Apple thing either. I see it as a news thing. If WP7 was doing this would it be considered a better story to post about?

    I know Apple topics on an Android forum can wind up getting locked in a matter of minutes. But I dont see this as that bad....yet.

    I know when I first saw it yesterday I thought and even asked, whats the big deal? Isnt this GPS or phone security related?

    Then seeing its not so easy to opt out had me thinking twice. Like with Google being able to access your phone and remove dangerous apps, doesnt this compare to that? Going back and rereading about that, Google will inform you if they had to do that. And the only way they can is if it was installed from their Market.

    I think the big issue here is that Apple is/was doing this without letting anyone know and its not easy to opt out.

    All I see it as is an interesting news story. Like with the Samsung and Apple lawsuit. Yea thats Android related but still. So we can only post things here about Apple if its in a positive light? I remember last year right before the iPhone 4 came out on AT&T there were posts about it on here that werent a problem. There were even live streams of it posted that werent a problem.

    I remember even starting a thread about do you think the Antenna is a good idea. It had a few responses, not really hate in the comments. Some ppl just gave opinions as to why they thought it was a bad idea. Its like this, if we cant post Apple news thats seen in a negative light to some ppl, we cant do that for Android either. Or any company. If the thread turns to garbage, then act accordingly. But we cant walk around on eggshell all the time when Apple is mentioned.
  13. czerdrill
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    czerdrill New Member

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    It's probably because no one should really expect some kind of "security" or "privacy" when it comes to smartphones. Yeah, Apple's way of doing it may have been a little blatant, but it's not like Google or Verizon doesn't know where you are at all times. Call 911 on your cellphone, refuse to tell them where you are, and they'll pinpoint you pretty closely based on towers and GPS haha....

    there really isn't much privacy in the digital world.
  14. icculusX
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    icculusX Premium Member Theme Developer Premium Member

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    czerdrill - Funny story about that, so I was on a walk in my small town and called 911 because a dog got hit on the road. The lady asked me where I am and I said right down the road from XXXX (the main bar in town) and she was like "OK sir I need an address" - I was like I don't know I am somewhere on state street near that bar and between the grocery store, again she said "Sir I need a numbered street address"

    Funny because right after I hung up I pulled up voice search, said the bar name, and BOOM within a total of 10 seconds I had a pinpoint on a map... man.

    I wanted to find their office and yell at them. I had a freakin droid and was in a small town. Now I know if I am being chased by a killer to just handle it myself haha.
  15. czerdrill
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    czerdrill New Member

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    lol ok so maybe they're not that accurate...
  16. jroc
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    jroc Well-Known Member

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    Just doing a lil more reading, it seems it might be related to using offline GPS, something which Google just put into Google Maps.

    So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    When you think about it, like I did when I first heard about it, it would make GPS on your phone more accurate, wouldnt it?
  17. honeyandroid
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    honeyandroid New Member

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    yeah! Droid thread.

    Maybe he didn't know and forgive him. man!
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