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Report Accuses Apple Of Tracking User Data

May 2, 2011 by  

Report accuses Apple of tracking user dataPrivacy 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.

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  • Vigilant

    Wouldn’t surprise me if this was initiated by Apple for two reasons: tracking of users as a law enforcement and DHS tool, as well as for demographics/marketing.

  • R D Button

    The tracking of location data is NOT just by Apple products. The Apps published by authorized Apple developers DO require the user to accept or reject the location data being used by the App. And the location data is often used for the convenience of the user such as finding businesses or other venues that are closest to the user. The photo app stores data that when connected to your computer iPhoto app provides time, date, and location information for every photo or video taken, which makes it a useful tool for reference purposes.

  • Nick

    I am more concerned with the Police in Michigan requiring drivers hand over their cell phones and taking/copying all information from cell phones during traffic stops.

    • http://?? Joe H.

      Nick,
      According to a lawyer I spoke to, they can only do it with your permission without a search warrant. Illegal search and seisure doncha know!!!

  • 45caliber

    I seriously doubt that Apple would install these things to keep tabs on the users of their products. Why would any company want to know where their customers live and go?

    On the other hand, I would certainly believe that they might be doing this as a service to our government.

    • Raggs

      You nailed it!

  • Kate8

    Everything is being used now to track and monitor us. There is no such thing as privacy anymore.

    BTW, did anyone happen to see the cable movie “Eagle Eye”? It’s based on what government ALREADY is capable of, using technology.

    Scary. A glimpse of what’s coming, sooner than we think.

  • http://com i41

    Mich. needs to see how many pedophile muslims are planning a retribution for deep sixing the pervert Osama, or the muslims want to track and tag all of us non muslims.

  • TIME

    Folks do you have cable TV, or Satalite TV? If so your being tracked.

    Do you have an IP? If so your being tracked.

    Do you have a passport issued after 2005, if so your being tracked.

    Do you have a cell phone. if so your being tracked.

    Do you have a home phone, if so your being tracked.

    Do you have a car made after 2004, if so your being tracked.

    Do you have photo lights in your town, if so your being tracked.

    Do YOU have credit card, if so your being tracked.

    Do you have a Bank account, if so your being tracked.

    Do you have vidio link sights in your town, if so your being tracked.

    In plain words folks for YOUR safty your elected officials have made it easy to find you at any time.

    Oh do you own a home, if so your being looked at at any time someone wants to see you, its called Google Earth. But your also hooked into the data base for anyone who wants to see what your up to.

    So is it possible that Apple computers is tracking you? Do you really have to ask?

    • http://?? Joe H.

      Time,
      They all need to read the book “The Puzzle Palace” all about the NSA, the only government entity without a set budget!!!! The book is over ten years old, but it will still raise eyes!!! It’s factual as well!!

      • TIME

        Hi Joe,

        BTW I agree with you a good book for people to read.

    • meteorlady

      That is true. Mostly we all want instant access to restaurants, stores, movies and addresses. That would mean that you would have to have a global positioning device on your phone or whatever you use. That’s just a well duh…..

      I do believe that the government can track us anywhere anytime. So why attack just Apple? Why not attack the government trackers?

      I am more concerned about how my personal information and close up pictures of my home are allowed on the internet without my permission. This MY information, gathered mostly from government sources, that websites use to make money. Anyone can now do a background check on me without my permission and I don’t even know if the information is accurate.

      • TIME

        Meteorlady,

        P 3 is dead on, why is that is the question?

  • Raggs

    Wonder if a small chunk of lead will stop the signals?

    Afterall the only reason lead is so called outlawed is due to the breaking of signals from things as such as a radar.

  • cerebus23

    Good to see big brother is alive and well :P.

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