A Silicon Valley newsletter – firstname.lastname@example.org – reports:
A couple of researchers have found that iPhone and iPad users’ moves are being tracked and logged, a practice that apparently started with the release of iOS 4 last year. The Guardian reports that according to the two data scientists, Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, they looked for a similar function in Android-based phones and came up empty. “We haven’t come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this,” Warden said.
What is your iPhone or iPad doing, exactly? It is recording latitude, longitude and timestamps. Warden and Allan say this information is not being shared with anyone, but on a website, they explain that “the most immediate problem is that this data is stored in an easily readable form on your machine. Any other program you run or user with access to your machine can look through it.” It also means, of course, that stolen devices will expose that information.
Is this a big deal in the age of oversharing and checking in — with people regularly disclosing their latest visit to Starbucks, the dentist and just about every other corner and alley? Darrell Etherington at GigaOm writes that it isn’t: “I tend to lean towards the open and trusting end of the scale when it comes to information sharing. Then again, that probably makes me a prime candidate for things like ‘Please Rob Me.’” But Warden told the Guardian: “Apple has made it possible for almost anybody — a jealous spouse, a private detective — with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been.”
So who is preparing the possibility of total supervision? Oppressive governments, or eager technical engineers and companies?