Friday, 22 April 2011

Apple in Phone Tracking Controversy

Security researchers have discovered a hidden feature within the iPhone that shows the gadget keeps track of users' movements, saving geographical details to a secret file on the device.

The file in question, which is named 'consolidated.db', has sparked controversy across the web. Apple are yet to respond to accusations that the data breaks privacy policy.

It's believed that the sneaky feature has been a part of Apple's product since iOS 4.0, which was published in June 2010. This means that some phones could potentially contain almost a year's worth of data plotting customers positions.

Pictured above: an example of how the data plotted by the phone is displayed visually

Billy Hawkes, Data Protection Commissioner, demands an excuse from Apple for having a feature that logs positioning without alerting phone users. Another popular Apple product, the iPad, is also a victim of the undercover file.

Two British programmers, Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, have set up a web page that offers a free downloadable application that lets users see what location data their phone is holding. Allan (who is also a former Apple employee) suggests encrypting your iPhone backups via a change of settings within iTunes. Worryingly, anyone who can access your iPhone or iPad can access this geographical information as the files are not password-protected in any form.

Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, also questions Apple's actions. He said: "The ability to extract information from a wide number of iPhone users is especially disturbing given that the government maintains databases of information on activists under the guise of tracking prospective domestic terrorists."

For now, Apple remains silent on the matter. I'll keep updating the blog as the situation develops.

2 comments:

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More than half of Americans who use apps say they have decided not to install one once they found out how much personal information they'd have to share, according to a study released Wednesday from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Mobile apps include maps, games and other programs that help turn smartphones into portable computers. Some apps, for instance, want to know a person's location using the phone's GPS function. cell phone tracking

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