iPhone Location Tracking

Have an iPhone?  If the answer is yes, here’s a tidbit of info you may need to know: you’re being monitored.  Apple’s iPhone 3G, iPhone3GS, the iPhone 4, and iPad have a tracking devices that logs the whereabouts of its users.  In addition, “Mac computers running Snow Leopard and even Windows computers running Safari 5 are being watched,” according to International Business Times.

Researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden verified that the information is sent back to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA.  The tracking device saves the details of the phone, and then the information synchronizes with iTunes, according to the Guardian.

Sen. Franken, D-Minn wrote to CEO Steve Jobs: “The existence of this information—stored in an unencrypted format—raises serious privacy concerns. … Anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken—over the past months or even a year.”

This should not be surprising since Apple’s terms and conditions for iTunes states: “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 by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.”

The iPhone’s competition, Google’s Android, also collects information, but not quite as extensively. 

Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas wrote a letter in 2010 to Steve Jobs inquiring about this geographic coordinating device.  General counsel Bruce Sewall wrote back: “To provide the high quality products and services that its customers demand.” 

Melanie Wilcox