Google and Apple have both been in the news lately over details of how both companies’ mobile operating systems store and transmit geolocation data. Following a class-action suit brought by two Tampa men targeting Apple over alleged user tracking, Google is facing a similar class action lawsuit filed in Detroit on Wednesday.Last week it was revealed that iOS devices cache a large amount of location data in a file that is backed up to users’ computers. The file is hidden from normal access on iPhones and iPads, but is unencrypted, and unless users also opt to encrypt iOS backups in iTunes, the file is also unencrypted. While someone would need physical access to either device to get the information, concerns were raised that the information could be used to track individuals, thereby compromising their privacy.
Apple later explained that the data was a cache of nearby cell tower and WiFi access point locations downloaded from Apple, which iOS devices can use to more quickly narrow down a users location when GPS signals are weak or nonexistent. The company admitted that the cache was designed to collect more data than was necessary, and said that an upcoming iOS update would restrict the size, encrypt it on the device, and keep the data from being backed up to users’ computers when syncing with iTunes.