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Why You Should Care About the iPhone Location-Tracking Issue

• Brian X. Chen and Mike Isaac via

You should care about Apple’s collection of geodata on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices, because the method is flawed.

To be clear, “care” doesn’t mean you should smash your iPhone with a hammer, rip out the GPS chip and gulp it down your throat. This isn’t an issue of “Big Brother is watching.”

It’s just a matter of a security flaw that puts your location data at risk if it gets in the wrong hands — not an immediate concern, but a concern nonetheless.

Two data scientists broke the news Wednesday that an unencrypted file stored on iOS devices contains a detailed log of the device’s geographical data dating back 10 months. The scientists also wrote a program, allowing you to plug in your iOS device and automatically output the geodata into an interactive map (like the one above), just so you could see for yourself.

As this story developed, some tech observers have attempted to defuse the issue. “So what?” David Pogue wrote in his New York Times column. “I have nothing to hide. Who cares if anyone knows where I’ve been?”

Here’s why we care.

Permanent Data Storage Is Unnecessary

As pointed out yesterday, Apple already admitted and explained that it deliberately stores geodata on its mobile devices so the company can collect it to improve location services.


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