Apple iPhone secretly records owners' every move [telecom]

I don't know what is more surprising, the story or that people still
believe that they actually have some privacy any more!
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Apple iPhone secretly records owners' every move Charles Arthur
April 21, 2011
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of
where you go - and saves every detail to a secret file on the device which
is copied to the owner's computer when synchronised.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded
co-ordinates 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.
With the iPhone tracker, researchers were able to map out the location
data their phones were collecting.
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.
Pete Warden, one of the researchers, said: "Apple has made it possible for
almost anybody ... with access to your phone or computer to get detailed
information about where you've been."
Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Mr Warden and
Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are
presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on
Wednesday. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone
manufacturers doing this," Warden said.
Sim"This is a worrying discovery. The existence of that data creates a real
threat to privacy."
Mr Warden and Mr Allan point out that the file is moved on to new devices:
"The fact that [the file] is transferred across is evidence that the
data-gathering isn't accidental."
Mobile networks already record phones' locations, but it is only available
to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order.
The iPhone system appears to record the data whether or not the user
agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it
can be disabled.
The researchers have set up a web page at Mr Warden's website to let Apple
users check location data the phone is retaining. The Guardian has
confirmed that 3G-enabled devices, including the iPad, also retain the
data.
Graham Cluley, at the security company Sophos, suggested that Apple might
be seeking data for advertising targeted by location, but he added: "I
tend to subscribe to cock-up rather than conspiracy on things like this -
I don't think Apple is really trying to monitor where users are."
However, Apple can legitimately claim that it has permission to collect
the data. Near the end of the 15,200-word terms and conditions for its
iTunes program is an 86-word paragraph that says: "Apple and our partners
and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including
the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This
location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally
identify you and is used ... to improve location-based products and
services."
The Guardian
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David Clayton
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