GPS Tracking Can’t Be This Invasive
A lot of folks come here to the GPS ROI Tracking Blog searching for answers about legalities and concerns regarding GPS Tracking.
Tracking their cell phones, tracking their cars, tracking their pets or even tracking their spouses.
Some of their concerns are sort of “way out there in Left Field”. Some of their comments and concerns are very real and very close to home, though.
There’s a LOT of unauthorized tracking going on out there today … but it’s not always GPS tracking, for sure.
This news here is scary .. and I say “scary’ as a tracking professional who lives, eats and breaths the stuff … I’m a tracking fan not a tracking phobic … and this still scares the dickens out of me
If this doesn’t scare you, it ought to.
Cell Phone Tracking Can Be Much More Invasive Than GPS Tracking
A map showing location-tracking information from the iPhone.
(Credit: O’Reilly Radar)
Apple iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 might be tracking their owners’ movements, a new report from O’Reilly Radar claims.
Alasdair Allan, senior research fellow in astronomy at the University of Exeter, and writer Pete Warden say they have found evidence that the iPhone, 3G iPad, and backups on users’ computers contain detailed location information, including latitude, longitude, and time stamps, that show where the mobile devices have been. In addition, the information is "unencrypted and unprotected, and it’s on any machine you’ve synched with your iOS device," they claim.
The information is reportedly stored in a file called "consolidated.db." The writers claim that the information, which isn’t "always exact," started being collected around the time of the launch of iOS 4 last year. They say that they have found "tens of thousands of data points in this file" that, they believe, were collected via cell-tower triangulation.
The fact that the iPhone or 3G iPad can be tracked isn’t all that surprising. Apple currently offers a free app, Find My iPhone, that lets users track their smartphone from another device. The service is also available to iPad and iPod Touch owners.
However, the claims made by Allan and Warden are a bit different. For one, in their findings, users don’t know that they’re being tracked. Moreover, exactly why that information is reportedly being tracked is unknown at this point. And as they rightly noted, "cell phone companies have always had this data, but it takes a court order to access it."
Although the alleged findings will raise some red flags in the privacy and security community, it’s worth noting that the information the writers allegedly came across is not being leaked out over the Web.
People who are concerned that their iPhone or iPad is tracking their locations can find out with the help of an application Allan and Warden released, named iPhone Tracker. The open-source application maps all the points of location information saved in the user’s devices.
I ran the application on my computer to find out if my iPhone has been tracking me. It returned a detailed map showing the many places I’ve been with my smartphone.
GPS Tracking — Am I Safe?
Well, I’ve mentioned before, time and again, that GPS Tracking, while it certainly does pose privacy concerns in some ways, is way, way less invasive and ubiquitous than simple cell phone multilateration service.
The reason GOPS tracking is much “safer”, privacy-wise, is that GPS tracking requires, at the minimum, an application be turned on in your mobile device.
Unless, I guess, you buy the device from Apple. Then, I am not so sure.
If this doesn’t make you unhappy with Apple, well it really ought to as well.
That’s my professional opinion, not just some “Apple Fan Boy” off on a rant.
I own no Apple devices, and boy am I glad I do not. One reason being that I have observed other, equally as invasive forays into unscrupulous data gathering by Apple in the past. What they might be still doing, right now, today, I have no idea.
And if you are carrying and Apple device, I would submit, in my personal opinion, neither do you.
Something else that the CNet article doesn’t go into is that these devices are made, tested, packaged and sent directly to the Apple Store (or any other authorized outlets” from Apple’s Shenzhen (Communist) China manufacturing facility.
Who else might be tapped in without anyone in the USA knowing about it?
Obviously, not me. Not you. And possibly, not even Apple. Scary.
Stick to GPS Tracking, It’s much less invasive.