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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As I understand it...
by jared_wilkes on Tue 26th Apr 2011 00:13 UTC
jared_wilkes
Member since:
2011-04-25

1. Both iOS and Android store location data derived from cell triangulation, cell positioning and other data, and wifi network data. Android stores a much shorter history, Apple a much longer (maybe non-expiring) one.

2. Both iOS and Android receive consent in their EULAs to store this data. (Not making a value judgment on this; just observing it.)

3. They also receive consent to periodically upload that data if you consent to activate their location services. Google transmits it with device identification (not "personal") and fairly frequently (they also purport to do various "anonymizations" to the data; Apple transmits it without device or personal identification at 12 or 24 hour intervals (This is where "we do not track" comes into play).

4. This is done under the guise of improving performance (which it does); it effectively eliminates Skyworks and provides both platform providers very valuable databases.

5. It's also done for ad targeting (not necessary this data set, but transmission of location data, generally). The various consents (defaults, how/when it is required, if it is being respected properly) is greatly variable, but for the most part is off by default and requires opt-in on both platforms.

5. This has been happening progressively for nearly 2 years. Both Apple and Google provided this information to Congress. Developers have been clamoring for the APIs, got them, have been using them... Consumers have been consenting to app installs that ask for location access. Critics lambasted Apple for attempting to strong arm all third-party ad networks and the competition off of iOS, etc...

6. Apple is probably confused by the response: I think it's sloppy and needs changes, but I like Apple's take on location as much as anyone else's. I hope they do continue to provide a user accessible cache of the location data, actually make it more viewable while at the same time more secure, and of course make sure you can set how much history is stored and allow you to manually delete/reset the cache.

7. I'm far less concerned with Apple's maliciousness, or Congressmen unable to ask if data is stored locally than I am judiciaries permitting my personal information to easily be used against me (not that I'm a criminal).

Reply Score: 1

RE: As I understand it...
by jared_wilkes on Tue 26th Apr 2011 00:30 in reply to "As I understand it..."
jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

I would also add:

Apple ultimately comes out of this stronger, better. They are already in a position where their data-collection techniques (off of the owners' devices) is more stringent than other platforms, ad networks, and app developers... and enforce even stricter enforcement of ad networks and developers on their platform.

Even on the device side, they probably want to argue that accessing the data violates the EULA (most certainly), violates the privacy of the user legally in a way that precedes weak technological protection, and possibly violates the DMCA which they could enforce on behalf of their users. (Again, no value judgment; just an observation.)

So they get forced to testify a few times, maybe some fines in some more surly countries, and make a few modifications to something that was done in haste without much thought. And then in a few months, they can point to someone doing far worse for sleazy purposes, rather than just sloppily or stupidly, and say they care about you.

A week of silence is nothing. Apple can be quiet until WWDC if they can at least announce changes then.

Edited 2011-04-26 00:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1