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Apple iPhone, iPad secretly tracking your location

By David Edwards
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 14:14 EDT
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Security researchers revealed this week that your favorite Apple gadget is logging and retaining a record of every place you go.

Researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have uncovered evidence that Apple’s iPads and iPhones contain a database with thousands of location points that gets downloaded every time the device syncs with a PC or Mac.

The unencrypted file, named “consolidated.db,” seems to be first created when user downloads and installs iOS 4 software to the device. It includes latitude, longitude, a time stamp, and the IP address for the wireless network the phone was currently accessing.

The researchers unveiled a new application called “iPhone Tracker” at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday that allows users to visualize the location points on a map.

“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,” Warden told The Guardian.

“This is a worrying discovery,” Simon Davies, director of the Privacy International, told the paper. “Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone’s life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage.”

Watch this creepy video created by Allen that shows his July 2010 Amtrak trip from Washington D.C. to New York using data points culled from the iPhone Tracker software.

Washington DC to New York from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

In the following video, Allen and Warden discuss their discovery.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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