The iPhone Tracking Controversy, Updated as of 4.27.2011
- Last week security researchers revealed that the iPhone and iPad store an unencrypted location file on the phone which is also copied to iTunes during synch.
- O'Reilly Media was one of the first to have a good technical discussion of what the Apple devices were doing.
- The security researchers made their software available on GitHub making it easy for anyone to visualize their personal iPhone tracked data.
- BitBoy was kind enough to post an image to Flickr of his personal data showing geolocation from iphone file in Los Angeles.
- Within 24 hours of the story breaking, ArsTechnica had a good discussion of what actually was being tracked.
- Major media outlets began to cover the iPhone tracking story quickly after the software became available.
- Interesting conversations have started in both the technical and non-technical press regarding how "important" the tracking information is technically and equally important will consumers actually care?
- A classic curt response from Steve Jobs the controversy "no we don't track". Is he even technically correct given what is known about the issue and they rationale used for the collecting the data in the first place?
- Apparently at least a few consumers are indeed "concerned" about the tracking issue and have now filed a class action lawsuit.
- On April 27th, under increased media and public pressure, Apple released the following Q&A related to location data.They clarify that only wi-fi and cell tower locations are being kept by the phone and sent anonymously to Apple.Within a week a software update will allow a user to stop backing up of this data and delete the existing data when the user turns off the location service on the phone.
- A sure sign that Apple is sensitive to the negative press associated with the "location bug", Jobs sits down for a rare question and answer session with WSJ.
- For those of you who are concerned please note that it has been mentioned that if your iPhone/iPad require a passcode for access the raw file uploaded to your computer via iTunes is encrypted. I have not yet been able to independently verify this.
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