Do you own an Apple iPhone or an Apple iPad? You may wish to be aware of a recent discovery that your location and time stamp are being recorded to a secret file. The discovery came from two researchers who noticed, after the introduction of iOS 4, the secret file has been recording data about user location as well as a time stamp. But no one knows exactly what Apple is going to do with the data. What is also alleged is that this data file is being stored in backups and is even present when stored to other devices.
The presence of the file presents security and privacy concerns that Apple hasn’t explained. The file is not encrypted nor is it protected from prying eyes. In addition, it is automatically synced with any of your other devices using iOS 4. In theory, if someone got a hold of your device, they can determine when and where you have been since the release of iOS 4. This information could be used by law enforcement to track your previous locations or by some other governmental agency. Even TSA could use the information to determine when and where you have traveled, even when not doing so by airplane.
The file is called consolidated.db and contains the latitude and longitude coordinates and also contains the time you were at the coordinates. Though not always 100% accurate, the information seems to be very detailed in nature. The file is also quite large and can contain tens of thousands of data files showing where you have been since iOS 4 was first introduced. One thing that is not consistent is the fact that the data is kept erratically and doesn’t follow any specific pattern.
Before you get too excited about the data being stored, there doesn’t seem to be a way that the data is being sent to Apple. Not as of yet. Also, this same information is kept by cell phone companies, but the release of this information takes a court order. It is unknown if one would need a court order to access the information from your Apple iPhone or Apple iPad.
Just the fact that this information is being stored on your iOS 4 device is disturbing. It makes one wonder how many other non-Apple devices could be storing similar information. Since the Google Android tablet industry as well as Google Android powered phones are relatively new, could these devices be storing similar data? It should be interesting see if this is the case or not.
So what do you think? Do you think Apple should be able to access this data?