Is Your Phone Tracking You?

Q. The news had a story about Apple iPhones “secretly” keeping a log of everywhere I go. What’s going on?!

A. This is nothing new. Nor is it a secretive attempt to monitor your activities. Apple uses the information to improve the location services you use on your phone.

Background

I use my iPhone for just about everything. Surfing the Internet, writing e-mail, playing a few mundane games, studying Scripture, checking out astronomical constellations–even writing blog posts! If I were to say with what function my phone has been most helpful, it would be maps. I have several mapping applications, depending on the need. When driving, I use a dedicated GPS driving application. If I’m looking for a specific store or something I need in my general area and speed is a factor, I’ll use the built in Google Map app. I use a different app for finding specific kinds of restaurants. The point being that using maps that are either outdated or inaccurate would be annoying. That geo-location data isn’t generated by itself, so Apple has asked their users to help out a little.

When Was I Asked?

This may not be the best answer, but it’s the truth: When you agreed to the EULA (End User License Agreement). Apple has taken it one step further by having a specified Privacy Policy. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I haven’t read that. Neither have I. In fact, who has ever read through the legalese of the EULA? In the end, it is our responsibility as the customer to have read it. At least Apple isn’t trying to hide behind the EULA. They have been very straightforward about how the data is collected and transmitted back to their respective servers.

Should I Be Concerned?

The only way anyone outside of Apple can gain access to the location file is if you lost your phone or your computer. If that’s the case, you have more to worry about than where you’ve been. Fortunately (if you can call it that), sending a remote wipe code to your phone is a fairly small matter. Consider your credit or debit card for a moment…if someone were to take your card statement, they would gain much more valuable information (such as where you shop and how much you spend there). While stealing mail may be a Federal offense, it would be a lot easier than stealing your phone. In fact, it is at the top of the list of white-collar crimes!

BTW, Apple has since release a very detailed explanation of the data, how it was captured, how it’s being using and acknowledged that the unencrypted location database file was a bug that has been fixed in the new iOS update (4.3.3) which is available for all Apple mobile devices made in the last two years.

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Posted in Apple, Inc., iPhone, Social Networking

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