Apple Tracking iPhone Users' Movements

Published by: Mike Goldman on 22nd Apr 2011 | View all blogs by Mike Goldman
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Apple Tracking iPhone Users' Movements

Apple's iPhone smartphones, like most cell phones these days, track their users with GPS location technology.  But it turns out that Apple, for the last ten months, has been keeping its customers' location data in a file on the device itself.  This means that somebody who gets a hold of your phone, and knows how to retrieve the data, could potentially learn where you've been.  For the majority of cell phone users this won't be an issue, but for those involved in a bitter divorce or heated lawsuit of any kind, it could represent fuel for the enemy.  Either way, it's a dangerous data retention policy and Apple should change it with its next update to iOS.

But the question begs, what does Apple want with the location data of its users, anyway?  According to TechCrunch, The Cupertino, California-based company is building its own location database to use on its geo-location apps and for diagnostics.  Apple previously explained the plan back in July, 2010 when Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote a letter to answer questions concerning its location-tracking policies.  In the letter Sewell said that Apple was replacing location databases it had used previously, acquired from Google and SkyHook Wireless, with a new one it was building itself.

These location databases require constant updating to keep up with the changing landscape, new innovations in mobile technology, and an increasing userbase.  Apple claims that they do not track users who turn off Location Services in their phone's settings, and that the company removes personally identifying information and encrypts any data before sending it to its servers.

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