Apple IPhones and IPads Are Tracking User Locations

Did you read the fine print? According to security experts Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden on BBC Mobile News Technology, location data is kept in a hidden, unencrypted file. And according to Allan and Warden, with the right software it can be used to map a person’s exact location. In the terms of use that you agreed to when using your Apple device, Apple says “We may collect information such as occupation, language, zip code, area code, unique device identifier, location, and the time zone where an Apple product is used so that we can better understand customer behavior and improve our products, services, and advertising.” Allan and Warden claim that the facility to record users’ positions was added with the iOS4 software update, released in June 2010.

“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,” said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

The data is also stored on your computer when synced with your device. It is unclear whether Apple is using this information for commercial purposes, but let’s face it, folks. Apple is most definitely using it to track demographics of sales and usage. That way they can target your purchasing power more easily. This idea of tracking your spending practices is not new. Services like FetchBack follow your shopping and suggest items in the form of pop-up ads suggesting products that go with what you just purchased or in some cases, just browsed and looked at.

How does the tracking work? According to the article posted on BBC Mobile News Technology, the locations stored in the file are determined by triangulating the position of your device against nearby cell phone towers, so you are still being tracked even with GPS switched off. This means 3G enabled iPads are tracked as well. Welcome to the world of Big Brother.

Are you really surprised about the tracking? I’m not surprised at all. I figured with having a GPS enabled Smartphone, I am under constant monitoring. For those people concerned about personal privacy my recommendation is to only use pre-paid disposable phones. For the rest of us, I recommend getting used to it. I’m sure Apple isn’t the only one tracking us with our GPS enabled devices. Tracking could save your sorry butt by giving you an alibi if you are ever accused of a crime you didn’t commit. It could prove you weren’t in the right location to give you opportunity to commit the crime.

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