Privacy advocates have urged Federal lawmakers to investigate Apple following a report that the company keeps tabs on its users' locations.
In a post that appeared last week on the blog O'Reilly Radar, researchers revealed that Apple's iPhone and 3G iPad record the device's geographic locations into a hidden file. The report claimed that the file is unencrypted and unprotected, which raises concerns about security and privacy.
According to the investigators, anyone with access to the files can determine where the phone's user has been over the past 12 months.
"We're not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it's clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations," the researchers wrote.
Last month, a report from German politician Malte Spitz prompted American lawmakers to explore the tracking capabilities used by major cell phone companies in the United States. Spitz revealed that his provider, Deutsche Telekom, had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates on more than 35,000 occasions over a six-month period, The New York Times reported.
In a letter to Congress, the nation's four largest wireless carriers — AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA — said that they obtain user data only after receiving a customer's permission. However, they stated that they have no power to require third-party developers such as Apple to get user consent, according to The Associated Press.