Essentially, a secret log file is created on the iPhone itself, that records the users latitude and longitude with a time-stamp. Whenever the iPhone is synced with iTunes, the file itself is transferred to the computer.
“We’d been discussing doing a visualisation of mobile data, and while Alasdair was researching into what was available, he discovered this file. At first we weren’t sure how much data was there, but after we dug further and visualised the extracted data, it became clear that there was a scary amount of detail on our movements,” Warden said.
The iPhone and iPad appear to record the data whether or not the user agrees. The Guardian attempted to contact Apple, but they declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled.
“Only the iPhone records the user’s location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. “Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google’s] Android phones and couldn’t find any,” said Warden. “We haven’t come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this.””
So, what are your thoughts? Good to know that Android Phones don’t do this. How concerned are you about your privacy?
You can check out the findings in detail at the O’Reilly Radar