guardian.co.uk

Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner’s movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year’s worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the phone’s operating system, 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.

You can get the iPhone Tracker Application here.




  1. Special Ed says:

    Sorry Pedro, or Mexican…

  2. Sister Mary Hand Grenade of Quiet Reflection says:

    #30 – Maybe no one gives a shit where you’ve been.

    🙂

  3. Grymbaldie says:

    This goes back to the FBI/CIA wanting complete access after 911 2001. All electronic devices are accessible by the government. Gee I sound like a right wing paranoid.

  4. nunyac, opinions not based on the 60's television series says:

    Perhaps a complaint to the FTC should be made. The complaint might be that the Apple iPhone name is deceptive. It should have been the “iSpy”.

  5. Its the New World Order or perhaps your jealous spouse out to track you down
    1984 George Orwell / Eric Blair in our times
    I heard about this on Coast to Coast
    But will the Android be worse – with what Google knows about us all

  6. foobar says:

    #41 I especially like Google’s private API’s for governments.

  7. Jonesy says:

    #18 – Moss said- “any other laptops or mobile devices have anything built-in to locate a lost or stolen device? In OS X or iOS, it’s called Find my laptop [or whatever].”

    So everybody else is doing it…invading your privacy, so why are we bitching about this….got it. So that makes it OK. Got it.

    I use to respect liberals, even considered myself one at one time. But rolling over to every intrusive form of gov’t doesn’t seem very liberal to me.

    As long as your Apple stock is doing well, who cares what kind of conditions the Chinese Apple slaves live in….right?

    Libs and Pukes….you guys crack me up.

    You don’t have to answer…I don’t expect you will

  8. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    What’s the problem? It’s a feature!

    # 12 msbpodcast said,”If you’re accused of something, your tracking data can be used to clear you…”

    So, you’ve had a phone tap installed to monitor your calls? Could help to clear you if you’re ever accused of a crime.

  9. msbpodcast says:

    I fail to see what possible linkage my Mac has to do with your personal liberty.

    If you don’t want to be traced, be a troglodyte.

    Maybe Ted Kazinski was right, maybe he wasn’t.

  10. keaneo says:

    Android phones have little fairy robots that creep out at night and ring up the coppers to let them know where they are – when stolen.

  11. Glock 26 says:

    My Android has a way to disable GPS. Wouldn’t that end this nightmare scenario?

  12. What? says:

    The question is: do you own information about yourself, exclusively?

    If the phone held information that could exzonerate you, you would want that feature. Right? If the phone held information that could convict you, you wouldn’t want to give that information released. Right?

    The Constitution says we souls be secure in our persons and papers (paraphrasing) from unreasonable search and seizure. Does this prohibition not apply to our electronic “papers”.

    I say it does!

    We can not be compelled to give evidence ourselves for any reason!

  13. What? says:

    Sorry, I shouldn’t post when drunk.

  14. deowll says:

    On the one hand in theory it might clear the innocent. In Practice at least one person said it missed their residence and another said it showed locations they’d never been. I’m not sure their phone hadn’t been there. If it was giving a false location then it could prove the guilty innocent and the innocent guilty.

    You can of course turn the thing off and no tracking will occur or have someone else lug it around to give you an alibi.

    The fact that anyone is going to the trouble to keep a running location of your cell phone is more in line with the masters keeping an eye on the slaves than finding a lost phone.

    Seriously this has got to be wet dream of anyone running a police state or keeping up with their slaves. Of course you can use it on your minor kids and employes and if you don’t get caught your spouse/lover.

    As a rule I’m at home or at work. Both locations have phone service. My boss wants my cell phone turned off at work because gassing on the phone is not what they pay me to do. I do occasionally call out during a free moment which is okay.

    I thus keep my cell phone turned off which gives me fantastic battery life. I’ve never felt the need to talk on a phone while driving and the drive normally only lasts about 15 minutes anyway.

  15. IHeart Apple says:

    All you haters out there don’t see the benefit of the iphone tracking our movements. Don’t you realize it is our dream to be tracked down by Steve and asked out on a date? If there were not tracking, then it would not be possible for him to find us. Duh… I’m sure even some women might find this useful as well.

  16. The Ox says:

    It’s not the iPhone, it’s any iOS4 or later device. And a backup of the data is also on any PC or Mac the device has been synched with using iTunes. Check Apple Insider for more.

  17. bobbo, I'm not a tech guy says:

    I read the link and a few others. WHEN does this program create a data point? Is it continuously when it finds/selects the nearest tower, only when making a call, every 5 minutes? What? When? Depending on what I’m reading I can assume one way and then the other. I haven’t read that you can turn the logging off, the tracking yes, the logging no.

    So, like everything else–pro’s and con’s, but the key being knowledge, control, choices. Personally I don’t give a fig who knows where I’ve been, but if I was going to be nefarious, I go commando.

    I’m just about ready to buy a phone. Not to talk to anyone, I hate that. But to play music/radio and have a camera and maybe the voice recorder as well. Nice to cut down on the number of gadgets with the price/performance approaching the singularity.

  18. LesD says:

    Need an alibi.

    1) Backup phone unencrypted. Backup contains file.

    2) Edit file to include a trip to Hawaii

    3) Wipe and restore iPhone from backup

    4) Wait to get arrested and surrender iPhone.

    5) Police believe iPhone can’t be wrong.

    6) Party like it is 1999.

    Actually not sure if it would work without some more hard work. Backups may have some sort of cryptographic checksum. But interesting thought experiment anyway.

  19. Pedro's Pet Donkey, says:

    # 45 pedro said, on April 20th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha.

    What eeze dee matter boss??? Deed somebody teeckle you in dat place you reeelly like to be teeckled??? Dat reminds me, do you steel buy dat Preparation H by the gallon??? I would dink all that teeckling would hurt your butt some.

    Oh well, enjoy. I just hope your new goat wore condoms. Dat disease you have is not nice.

  20. Rabble Rouser says:

    Cheeses H. Riced! Gimme a break. This has been known about since iOS 3.2. You mean that “security experts” are just catching up to hackers? Not to mention the brainiacs in the news media, who want to make everything look like doom and gloom. I guess it sells, or people would shut the damn TV/Radio off.

  21. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    #19 TooManyPuppies – In 2007, I don’t think the 1st gen iPhone (GSM/EDGE) had GPS. It just had access to the service that kept track of Wi-Fi router and, I believe, cell tower coordinates. This recent data has latitude, longitude, time & date stamp and either the cell number or IMEI of the iPhone. Maybe Apple is comparing this new data against the old data.

    # 33 soundwash – Maybe, the clearing program creates a backup file and stores it by default. I heard that if someone attempts to login unsuccessfully something like 11, 13 or 15 times in a row the phone wipes itself clean.


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