Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Apr 2011 21:59 UTC, submitted by Martin
Apple There's a bit of a stink going on - even in major media - about something iOS 4's been doing. Apparently, iOS 4 has been storing a list of locations and timestamps to a hidden, but readable file in a standard database format. The locations are triangulated using cell towers, and generally aren't as accurate as for instance GPS. Still, the file is stored without any form of protection on both your iPhone as well as your desktop.
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RE[2]: Except they do tell you...
by Morgan on Fri 22nd Apr 2011 02:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Except they do tell you..."
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

I'm with you on the issue of burying the request for permission in walls of boring and hardly read text: It's despicable.

As for the law enforcement impact of this (nudge nudge), well our guys here in the US still have to get a warrant to search the phone's contents if you don't give them permission to, at least at the level of internal log files and such (there is a gray area regarding what is seen on the screen during a stop-and-frisk). Granted, I'm just a peon so take my word for what it's worth, but this has been the S.O.P. at both agencies I've worked at: One warrant to physically seize the device, and another to search its contents. It's a CYA move so the evidence isn't successfully challenged.

All that said, I can readily see three types of cases where such location data would be worth pursuing, and one isn't even criminal. First is a murder case where the suspect's phone would give clues to the path he took leading up to, during and after the murder. Another would be a drug enforcement investigation, where an accused dealer's phone records could corroborate an undercover agent's movement and activity reports. And finally, in a divorce case where one spouse wants to prove the other was unfaithful. I'm sure there are many other creative ways law enforcement can use this info against suspects, and plaintiffs can use it against defendants in civil court.

I also read this morning in an article on this subject that a company in New York has already assisted police with mining this data from phones and backup files, and has been doing so for a little while.

I personally am not affected as I doubt I'll own an iDevice in the foreseeable future; I loathe both Verizon and AT&T, and have no need or desire for an iPad, 3G or no. However, I am mildly alarmed at the implications, and I wonder how long it will take Apple to fix this issue.

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