I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, Apple tracks me

So what if your iPhone tells Apple where you’ve been?

If he had nothing to hide, he'd have nothing to worry about.

Okay, so Apple has been tracking your whereabouts through your iPhone or iPad without your consent for the past 10 months. So what?

No, really – so what? You don’t need to worry about Apple knowing where you’ve been. As they’ve explained (.pdf), they’re tracking you for your own good! By triangulating your whereabouts through cell phone towers,  Apple can vastly narrow down the range of your possible GPS coordinates, making your GPS-reliant apps run much quicker.  Feel better yet?

Maybe not. Okay, but consider this- even though your device secretly rats out your location to Apple every 12 hours, this data cannot be linked to you.  Apple assigns you a randomly generated number that changes every 24 hours. It’s this number that’s linked to your location history, not your name.  So even if law enforcement presented Apple with warrants, demanding the complete history of your whereabouts (as they routinely and successfully do with mobile carriers), Apple would be technically unable to drop a dime on you, even if they wanted to.

This guy stops at every Arby's.

So don’t worry about the fact that Apple has your location data. Instead, worry about the fact that you do.

Your iPhone or iPad automatically generates an unencrypted file called “consolidated.db” which contains the last 10 months of your location data with time stamps. Any computer synched to your Apple device also has this file.  Anyone who gets their hands on your gear can easily tap into the file and get an exact log of your movements. There’s already a handy app to turn this raw data into a pretty map.

U.S. Senator Al Franken has sent Apple a stern letter (.pdf) demanding answers on this flabbergasting revelation, and you can expect every privacy commissioner in the land to soon do the same.  In the meantime, here’s how the nervous among you can delete your consolidated.db files – so long as your iPhone is jailbroken.




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I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, Apple tracks me

  1. FUD

    nothing new, you agreed to to when you turned the phone on… http://images.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/iphone4.pd
    4(b) Location Data.

    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 problem is one assumed they had the intelligence to encrypt said data.

  2. Lol at roflskates linking another pdf

  3. Apple has lots of answers. Or their cultists will supply them. Often self-contradictory:

    1. It's a bug.
    2. It's a feature.
    3. It inheres in the T&C.
    4. Everyone tracks.
    5. Hold it different.
    6. None of your business.
    7. Helps your business.
    8. It's a design issue.

    I could go on indefinitely, but I expect the $teve apologists to help me out.
    .

  4. Just another example of our corporate fascist government keeping tabs on us all. I do not own an iphone & never will. I have a pay as you go phone & only turn in on when I need it. You have to remove the battery or they can still track you. Thats not paranoia google it & find out for yourself.

    • Ther's an app for that!

  5. I'm sure all of you so worried or outraged at being tracked have made sure to set your computers to not automatically accept "cookies" and never use Facebook or Twitter or other social media. Get a grip people you are being tracked all the time any time you use any modern tech gadget and not just Apple products.

    • Exactly, while no lover of Apple products, this is hardly surprising. Location based services inherently use some sort of caching in order to deliver their service, and really, what information can anyone gather from this sort of file that they couldn't through other means depending what resources they had available.

  6. Awww! Thx Just Joe.

  7. With BUSH's post 9/11/01, there's NO PRIVACY anymore.

    • you mean bush was on the planes that hit the towers???? hmmm!! did not know that !! nice of you telling us that … oh, but wait … there were 2 towers and only one bush ….

  8. apple should give you the option to delete the file and past history and i bet they will

  9. This whole thing is an exaggeration, the data is based on cell phone towers not where you were, doesn't record the history of how many times you have been in an area, Still a concern? Maybe but not as big as the usual media hype about it.

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