Both Apple and Android are collecting data in user’s handsets regarding location and movements. Apparently, any phones using iOS or Android is constantly logging where the phone is and which networks it is connected to. This includes Wi-Fi networks as well as mobile phone masts. Although, at present there is no need to panic – the data is stored only on handsets and on user’s backup files within their computer hard drives. There is no evidence present that either Apple or Android has transmitted any of this data ‘back to base’.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner’s movements using a simple program.
For some phones, there could be almost a year’s worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the phone’s operating system, released in June 2010.
Here is a sample of one user’s data over a period of time, plotted over a Google map. Their information is tracked whether they are using the phone or not, based on the phone’s automatic ability to detect Wi-Fi and mobile cells.
Watch: Very interesting video from the people who ‘discovered’ this. Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan talking about how they discovered the existence of the tracking database on the iPhone, and what it might mean.
The big question is – Are you bothered about this? If so, how can this data be used improperly by companies such as Apple? Or would it be more dangerous if they were to sell it to advertising/marketing companies?