Greg's bite: iOS 4 tracks your every move
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's bite: iOS 4 tracks your every move

By Greg Mills

The notion of privacy is a right only inferred by the Constitution of the Untied States rather than being a specifically enumerated right, such as those rights mentioned in the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion is an example of an enumerated right.  

The courts have found that an inherent "expectation of privacy" in most situations exists for us all. Without a warrant the government may not search our homes or dig into our private papers, for example. Little did I suspect the iPhone and iPad I carry most of the time represent an incredible potential invasion of my privacy.

Apple has gone on record as supporting the right of privacy for users of Apple devices. Steve Jobs has publicly stated that tracking users of web browsers without them "opting in" for such tracking is wrong. I agree. 

Recently, it was announced that the Apple Safari web browser under Mac OS Lion would have a "do not track" preference to stop advertising companies from tracking you to "customize" offers it pushes. It sure is nice to know Apple is looking out for my privacy ... or not! 

Actually, it turns out iPhone and iPad user locations are constantly being recorded, time stamped down to the second and that information appears to be permanently stored on both the iOS device and the computer they sync with. This has been standard procedure, since iOS 4.0 without actual notice to users and without "opting  in." In fact, there doesn't seem to even be an easy opt out option.  

At some point I updated iTunes and glibly clicked "accept" on the terms my trusted friend Apple presented to me, thus giving up my expectation of privacy. Have you ever read the fine print on a free update of a program you have been using for years? It seems iTunes gets an update every couple of weeks.  

Hidden in plain sight, within the 15,000 words was the following notice: "Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services."

That sounds innocent enough but actually, when some collects the information from your computer, iPhone or iPad, he or she knows exactly whose location date they have. Keep in mind that should your computer or iOS device be stolen or lost, all that data is easy to access and your life is an open book.

What isn't made clear is that even if you don't opt in, your data is stored forever on your iOS device and backed up forever on your computer. Even if you migrate to a new computer, the data file is moved intact and installed in the new computer with all that data intact.  
I vaguely knew that cell phone companies know where you are by comparing a log showing your closest cell tower to the timeline. Those records, at least with AT&T are considered private and held behind a firewall. Without a court order or search warrant, those records are not given out even to the police, let alone anyone else. Certainly, in case someone is lost or kidnapped tacking the cell phone of the victim or the perpetrator is a legitimate search. Barring that level of emergency, such location records would seem to reasonably be expected to remain private. That seems to be less than settled legally, however. 

Is it anyone's business that yesterday I took my dogs to the vet, made a bank deposit, shopped at Walmart and went to church that evening? I am not a terrorist. Tracking terrorists just became easy. Give them an iPhone and track away.  

I have a serious problem with that. When I first read that this was going on, I downloaded a free app called iPhoneTracker.app and ran it. I was horrified to see a map pop up with a graphic representation of where my iPhone (where I have been) ever since iOS 4 was loaded. Further research indicates that if you have "location services" turned on, the data can include your exact GPS location with a time stamped record stored on your computer's hard drive.  

We are not talking just once a day, we are talking virtually constant location updates. I found over 20,000 time stamped location files on my MacBook Pro downloaded from my iPhone. Get the free app to see your location data at http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/ .

I object to not being advised by Apple that they were doing this. The notice in iTunes, even had I noticed it doesn't tell me that information is stored forever on my Mac. I am further angry that this is being done without a way to "opt out" and an easy way to erase just those records isn't obvious.  

Check your Mac system folder and it will have such files if you own an iPhone or iPad. A new folder is generated each time you sync your iOS device. Go to /Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backups/  . You will find a bunch of files that appear to be gibberish. They are not gibberish to your computer.   

You can delete these files through iTunes preferences. Go to iTunes/preferences/devices/  then, select unused or obsolete devices and click "Delete Backup." Be careful not to delete the most recent backup of each current device. I don't have a clue about deleting the information on the iOS devices since the files are not easily available to civilians. I suspect the deleted files will be restored next time you back up your iOS device. To undo this will require a change in both the iOS 4 and Mac OS X systems.

I recently had a MacBook stolen. The thief could easily open those files and know where have been every hour of every day since I loaded iOS 4.0 onto my iPhone. That makes me uneasy.  In as little as five minutes someone who knows what they are doing could load software on to my current computer and capture all that location data and email it to a remote computer for later examination. Then, when you know remote access to computers by hackers is common, it is easy to see the risk of having all that data in an unsecured file. It is possible to encrypt your backups, and I am looking into that.

I don't care what advertising program Apple expects to use this information for, I don't want my privacy abused simply because I use Apple products. I was sorely tempted to trash all the Backups file but tinkering with the Library in OS X can be a disaster. What if you accidentally trash all your apps?

I will have a rather heated conversation with an Apple Genius tomorrow, in person at my local Apple store. I expect to be trashing my secret location files and seeking a way to disable that "feature." Disabling location tracking in iOS will be more complicated and may require Apple to undo the secret tracking feature or to offer a preference to no longer record locations. From what I read, no similar tracking system is found on Android phones.

I am very disappointed in my Apple. I found a nasty worm in my Bite today. Shame on you Apple.  

(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at gregmills@mac.com )

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.16 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Spotify 1.0.4.90. - Stream music, create...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
djay Pro 1.1 - Transform your Mac into a...
djay Pro provides a complete toolkit for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of... Read more
Vivaldi 1.0.118.19 - Lightweight browser...
Vivaldi browser. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind that users are... Read more
Stacks 2.6.11 - New way to create pages...
Stacks is a new way to create pages in RapidWeaver. It's a plugin designed to combine drag-and-drop simplicity with the power of fluid layout. Features: Fluid Layout: Stacks lets you build pages... Read more
xScope 4.1.3 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.7 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Labels & Addresses 1.7 - Powerful la...
Labels & Addresses is a home and office tool for printing all sorts of labels, envelopes, inventory labels, and price tags. Merge-printing capability makes the program a great tool for holiday... Read more
teleport 1.2.1 - Use one mouse/keyboard...
teleport is a simple utility to let you use one single mouse and keyboard to control several of your Macs. Simply reach the edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your other Mac! The... Read more
Apple iMovie 10.0.8 - Edit personal vide...
With an all-new design, Apple iMovie lets you enjoy your videos like never before. Browse your clips more easily, instantly share your favorite moments, and create beautiful HD movies and Hollywood-... Read more

Use Batting Average and the Apple Watch...
Batting Average, by Pixolini, is designed to help you manage your statistics. Every time you go to bat, you can use your Apple Watch to track  your swings, strikes, and hits. [Read more] | Read more »
Celebrate Studio Pango's 3rd Annive...
It is time to party, Pangoland pals! Studio Pango is celebrating their 3rd birthday and their gift to you is a new update to Pangoland. [Read more] | Read more »
Become the World's Most Important D...
Must Deliver, by cherrypick games, is a top-down endless-runner witha healthy dose of the living dead. [Read more] | Read more »
SoundHound + LiveLyrics is Making its De...
SoundHound Inc. has announced that SoundHound + LiveLyrics, will be one of the first third-party apps to hit the Apple Watch. With  SoundHound you'll be able to tap on your watch and have the app recognize the music you are listening to, then have... | Read more »
Adobe Joins the Apple Watch Lineup With...
A whole tidal wave of apps are headed for the Apple Watch, and Adobe has joined in with 3 new ways to enhance your creativity and collaborate with others. The watch apps pair with iPad/iPhone apps to give you total control over your Adobe projects... | Read more »
Z Steel Soldiers, Sequel to Kavcom'...
Kavcom has released Z Steel Soldiers, which continues the story of the comedic RTS originally created by the Bitmap Brothers. [Read more] | Read more »
Seene Lets You Create 3D Images With You...
Seene, by Obvious Engineering, is a 3D capture app that's meant to allow you to create visually stunning 3D images with a tap of your finger, and then share them as a 3D photo, video or gif. [Read more] | Read more »
Lost Within - Tips, Tricks, and Strategi...
Have you just downloaded Lost Within and are you in need of a guiding hand? While it’s not the toughest of games out there you might still want some helpful tips to get you started. [Read more] | Read more »
Entertain Your Pet With Your Watch With...
The Petcube Camera is a device that lets you use live video to check in on your pet, talk to them, and play with them using a laser pointer - all while you're away. And the Petcube app is coming to the Apple Watch, so you'll be able to hang out with... | Read more »
Now You Can Manage Your Line2 Calls With...
You'll be able to get your Line2 cloud phone service on the Apple Watch very soon. The watch app can send and receive messages using hands-free voice dictation, or by selecting from a list of provided responses. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Intel Compute Stick: A New Mini-Computing For...
The Intel Compute Stick, a new pocket-sized computer based on a quad-core Intel Atom processor running Windows 8.1 with Bing, is available now through Intel Authorized Dealers across much of the... Read more
Heal to Launch First One-Touch House Call Doc...
Santa Monica, California based Heal, a pioneer in on-demand personal health care services — will offer the first one-touch, on-demand house call doctor app for the Apple Watch. Heal’s Watch app,... Read more
Mac Notebooks: Avoiding MagSafe Power Adapter...
Apple Support says proper usage, care, and maintenance of Your Mac notebook’s MagSafe power adapter can substantially increase the the adapter’s service life. Of course, MagSafe itself is an Apple... Read more
12″ Retina MacBook In Shootout With Air And P...
BareFeats’ rob-ART morgan has posted another comparison of the 12″ MacBook with other Mac laptops, noting that the general goodness of all Mac laptops can make which one to purchase a tough decision... Read more
FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone: Over 1.5 Mi...
FileMaker has announced that its FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone app has surpassed 1.5 million downloads from the iTunes App Store. The milestone confirms the continued popularity of the FileMaker... Read more
Sale! 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1099 – $200 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price for online orders only, in-... Read more
Minimalist MacBook Confirms Death of Steve Jo...
ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee has posted a eulogy for the “Digital Hub” concept Steve Jobs first proposed back in 2001, declaring the new 12-inch MacBook with its single, over-subscribed USB-C port to be... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $1234 w...
Adorama has the 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro in stock for $1234.99 ($65 off MSRP) including free shipping plus a free LG external DVD/CD optical drive. Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999...
 Adorama has the 13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Support Technician IV - Jack Henry a...
Job Description Jack Henry & Associates is seeking an Apple Support Technician. This position while acting independently, ensures the proper day-to-day control of Read more
*Apple* Client Systems Solution Specialist -...
…drive revenue and profit in assigned sales segment and/or region specific to the Apple brand and product sets. This person will work directly with CDW Account Managers Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Casper (Can work...
…experience . Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior . Mac OSX / Server . Apple Remote Desktop . Process Documentation . Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Xerox Corporation...
…Imaging experience Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior Mac OSX / Server Apple Remote Desktop Process Documentation Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.