iPhone = iTracker?

You may already know that a lot of apps in your iPhone log your locations so they can provide you directions or geographic-based recommendations. But did you know you iPhone itself also keeps a separate, locally stored history of places you have even been? BuzzFeed recently finds out that iPhones have a hidden function that records where you’ve been and how long you spent there.

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Some people think this function is definitely an intrusion of privacy. The most concerned issue about it is that the stored locations data can be easily read on your device. Any other app you run or user with access to your iPhone or iPad can look through it. The more fundamental problem is that Apple are collecting this information at all, even though the claim that they don’t.  “Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” Phone companies collect similar data almost inevitably as part of their operations, but it’s kept behind their firewall. It normally requires a court order to gain access to it, whereas this is available to anyone who can get their hands on your devices. Meanwhile, this function seems to be not beneficial at all in terms to the fact that this data is stored in such an intricate manner.

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When being asked “Why is my iPhone logging my location?” Apple says, “The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” To my understanding, this statement is saying “Oh, we know where you are, we just won’t memorize it.” So what about other institutions or people who have or want to have the access to this information?

It is a controversy argument that the Frequency Locations setting in your iPhone is either a benefit function or an intrusion of privacy, or both. So for those who have no idea about this, you can go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Frequency Locations to turn it on or off.

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Sources:

Apple – Press Info – Apple Q&A on Location Data. (n.d.). Apple – Press Info – Apple Q&A on Location Data. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/04/27Apple-Q-A-on-Location-Data.html

iOS 7: Understanding Location Services. (n.d.). iOS 7: Understanding Location Services. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5594

Edward Snowden Interview – NBC News. (n.d.). NBC News. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snowden-interview

iPhone Tracks Your Every Move, and There’s a Map for That | Gadget Lab | WIRED. (0011, April 18). Wired.com. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2011/04/iphone-tracks/

How to turn off iOS 7 frequent location tracking and increase your privacy. (n.d.). iMore. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://www.imore.com/how-turn-off-ios-7-location-tracking-increase-privacy

iPhone Tracker. (n.d.). petewarden/iPhoneTracker @ GitHub. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://petewarden.github.io/iPhoneTracker/

Edward Snowden Brian Williams NBC Interview Breakdown. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwoIF9beTDo

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4 thoughts on “iPhone = iTracker?

  1. When we had the class Meghan; she touched a lot on this! This idea that my phone tells so much about me and people can find me anywhere scares me. I turn my location off on every app that i even have.

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  2. This definitely seems like an invasion of privacy for sure. It’s scary knowing a device has more control of knowing where you are than some of your own family members! I didn’t even know this setting existed, so I definitely need to check it out!

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  3. I think it’s interesting that the CIA said they could never come up with a better visual/audio/tracking device than a cell phone. It’s really easy to hack into a phone and see what is occurring through our cameras. Being able to track someone without them knowing is very unsettling. You are always being watched.

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  4. Lolllll, this topic is also a very hit topic on Chinese Internet recently, because the Chinese official TV station–China Central Television blamed the Apple company in the news report that the Apple company might infringe users’ privacy. And Apple jumped out quickly to make an announcement that they won’t be able to reveal users’ privacy, and they are going to improve their technology to protect users’ privacy better. However, as consumers we are, we are not able to figure out whether the company infringes our privacy or not until somebody tells us. So, believe it or not, we have no choice but continue to use it.

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