or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Apple already hit with lawsuit over iOS location tracking file
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple already hit with lawsuit over iOS location tracking file

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
As the iOS 4 location tracking file on the iPhone continues to make headlines, two customers have already sued Apple and accused the company of invasion of privacy and computer fraud.

The class-action suit was filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla., by Vikram Ajjampur of Florida and William Devito of New York. The two have asked a judge to bar the data collection on iPhones and 3G-equipped iPads, according to Bloomberg.

"We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go," attorney Aaron Mayer reportedly said in representing his clients. "If you are a federal marshal you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one."

The customers seek refunds for their purchases, because they said they would not have bought Apple's products if they had known of the location tracking. The plaintiffs said they were unaware of the tracking and never consented to it.

Apple has not yet officially commented on the matter, which gained attention last week, when two researchers publicized it. They found that the iOS 4 mobile operating system creates a file, "consolidated.db," which collects latitude and longitude coordinates where the device has been, along with a timestamp.

It has been suggested that the file's existence and the fact that data is recorded but never deleted are an oversight by Apple. The unencrypted information resides on a user's phone and in iTunes backups, but has not been found to be transmitted to Apple or any third parties.



Disabling location services on an iPhone or iPad also does not stop the creation of the file or the recording of location information. Researchers have advised users to encrypt their iTunes backup files to bolster security, as anyone with access to a device or just a backup file could extract the information.

In addition to the class-action lawsuit, Apple's iOS 4 tracking scandal has also prompted investigations of the company in South Korea, France, Germany, and Italy. And last week, two national elected officials in the U.S. sent letters to Apple, expressing concerns over the "consolidated.db" tracking file and requesting information regarding why the data is collected.
post #2 of 84
Sue first, ask questions later.
post #3 of 84
These guys must have been in a race to see who could file first. Two New Yorkers (I highly doubt that Vikram Ajjamper is from Florida) vacationing in Tampa couldn't wait to get home in order to file as they might miss the window of opportunity. I say who cares unless you worried about being tracked for something illegal. Being from New York, maybe they have a point.
post #4 of 84
Wow, overreaction much?
The researchers did not find the file to be sent out anyplace.
Apple screwed up by not encrypting the file - none of this would have come up if they had done that simple thing.
I'm sure we will see a patch coming along real soon.
post #5 of 84
It's my information, about me, on my phone, just like my emails and contacts. Nobody is harvesting the information. I don't care. Now google, there is somebody I do not trust with my information.
post #6 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprockkets View Post

Sue first, ask questions later.

Only in America..
post #7 of 84
Well it was bound to happen sooner or later.
post #8 of 84
My two cents: It's not a "tracking file". It is a file where location data is stored. BIG DIFFERENCE. Legal and otherwise.
post #9 of 84
The telecom act of 1996 required that cell phone companies keep location data and connect to your phone to listen and access the data on your phones.

http://www.infowars.com/investigatio...-spy-on-users/
post #10 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by tranquility View Post

My two cents: It's not a "tracking file". It is a file where location data is stored. BIG DIFFERENCE. Legal and otherwise.

Exactly. Is there a GPS out there that doesn't maintain previous locations in memory?
post #11 of 84
You are holding it wrong. If you hold your finger across the antenna gap on the bottom left corner, the phone will not log or even detect the cell tower.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply
post #12 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

You are holding it wrong. If you hold your finger across the antenna gap on the bottom left corner, the phone will not log or even detect the cell tower.

post #13 of 84
Anything to try and make money. Do they really think Apple is watching your every move? That is ridiculous. I hope a judge throws them out of court by there, you know what.
post #14 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookiePuss View Post

The telecom act of 1996 required that cell phone companies keep location data and connect to your phone to listen and access the data on your phones.

http://www.infowars.com/investigatio...-spy-on-users/

Stop with all these facts. People hate it when you force them to face the facts.
post #15 of 84
Wait till these folks hear about what their car's GPS is doing. Hope the boys at Garmin have a tramp steamer full of lawyers.
post #16 of 84
I'd bet all cell phones have such a file and the carriers are probably required by the U S of A to have it. If the US can wiretap calls, then they can certainly require tracking information.
post #17 of 84
The way I see it, is it could save your ass since it records latitude and longitude along with time stamp, if someone ever accuses you of wrong doing and you was not there.
post #18 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookiePuss View Post

The telecom act of 1996 required that cell phone companies keep location data and connect to your phone to listen and access the data on your phones.

http://www.infowars.com/investigatio...-spy-on-users/

Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

With all due respect to infowars.com, being able to determine the users current location is not the same as recording their movements.

Very true.

Nothing I've read about this indicates that Apple is doing any tracking of phones or individuals in any user identifiable manner. If they are or were, I would, quite rightly, be on the side of those criticizing them. However, here's an interesting tidbit in the WSJ article linked to from the Infowars article:

Quote:
In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.

And, it would not surprise me to learn that the same is true of all Android phones.

Since the same has not been indicated for the iPhone -- i.e., no one has published anything indicating that the iPhone is transmitting this info anywhere along with user identifiable information -- it seems unlikely that they are.

Why is it, given that Google is transmitting user identifiable information along with location data on a regular basis, that the press, bloggers and Android fans are all over Apple about this, when they appear not to be transmitting any user identifiable information.

From what is known, it appears the most Apple is doing that's truly objectionable may be that they are using up some of the data you are allowed under your data plan.
post #19 of 84
The class-action suit was filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla., by Vikram Ajjampur of Florida and William Devito of New York. The two have asked a judge to bar the data collection on iPhones and 3G-equipped iPads, according to Bloomberg.

"We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go," attorney Aaron Mayer reportedly said in representing his clients. "If you are a federal marshal you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one."

The customers seek refunds for their purchases, because they said they would not have bought Apple's products if they had known of the location tracking. The plaintiffs said they were unaware of the tracking and never consented to it."


Reminds me of a lyric from a Joni Mitchell song, "The Windfall (Everything for Nothing)"

"In the land of litigation
The courts are like game shows
Take what's behind the curtain
The jury cries
I'm not going to be the jackpot
At the end of your perjured rainbow
Not if local justice has even one good eye."

Good luck Steve. Per Don McLean, "This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."
post #20 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

But that doesn't explain why Apple is recording this data.

However this letter from Apple's general counsel to a couple of members of Congress last year certainly does: <http://markey.house.gov/docs/applemarkeybarton7-12-10.pdf>

I'm rather surprised that the usual tech sites, including this one, have failed to pick up on this.
post #21 of 84
I suspect we'll see

"Motion to Dismiss"

sooner than later. This case is without merit unless the "smoking gun" is found where Apple is profiting from such data collection.
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
post #22 of 84
After reading about this on the news, I had a think.

Rather than complaining, I wrote a script to tag Places for your pictures in iPhoto.

Please check it out and offer feedback!
http://goo.gl/OQzfB

In other news, I'm looking for a job...
Peter
http://peterburk.appspot.com
post #23 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgl323 View Post

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later.

This is America. It was bound to happen sooner or even sooner . . . .
post #24 of 84
Interesting, all cell phone companies know where most of their customers are, at ANY time, and ANY time in the past. This has helped to find missing persons in the past, using the GPS encoded pings of the victim's cellphone.

This has been true at least 1 decade. I would be shocked if Apple's iPhone were, illegally, NOT tracking cell phone customer movements. If they were not, I think the FCC would order them to begin complying with tracking requirements.
post #25 of 84
Meanwhile devices that snoop the data from your phone (without a password) are readily available and not just to law enforcement, yet it's the the real issue isn't ease of access to the data on your phone ? I feel like these lawsuits are more about press and money, they aren't working the right end of the system to protect our rights.

The argument seems to be that the data should not be there at all, but that's like saying I'll never store my web history, cache, bookmarks photos etc. Any of that data could in the least be embarrassing, if not incriminating. "Oh hey, I see you visited the strip club last night. What's your wife think of that?" LOL

Most of this information is useful to the user and regretfully law enforcement is going to ask for access to this data if the phone is evidence in a criminal investigation.

As long as warrants aren't frivolously issued and the general public doesn't have access to evasive technologies, then it shouldn't be a problem. However the convenience of having so much data on one portable unit (including GPS) obviously comes with a price and we have to work a little to protect our rights.

The ARS article on one of these devices was eye opening and personally I think it's not an issue of the data's presence (it's useful to the user) as much as it is about who has access, explicitly why and to how much of it. Often it takes a while for the law to catch up with tech, this is just another instance.


http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...-a-warrant.ars
turtles all the way up and turtles all the way down... infinite context means infinite possibility
Reply
turtles all the way up and turtles all the way down... infinite context means infinite possibility
Reply
post #26 of 84
Quote:
● Requiring customer consent to collect data. The user is never even informed of the collection of "consolidated.db" data, let alone asked to give consent.

Section 4b of the EULA gives consent, but whatever. Just cos you never read it, doesn't exempt you from it.
post #27 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

given that Google is transmitting user identifiable information along with location data on a regular basis, that the press, bloggers and Android fans are all over Apple about this, when they appear not to be transmitting any user identifiable information.

As far as I know any location and personally identifiable information sent thru to Google (or whoever on Android) requires an opt-in. I know if it's an app that's how it works. I don't know if what you're referring to is something else? Certainly possible, but nothing that I've read about.

EDIT: Anonymouse, I read the article you had mentioned, and at least two "hackers" stated that Google does transmit location info, tho it doesn't specify whether users' had been required to "opt-in" by using Google Navigation or Places for instance, or under what circumstances location is shared.

Interesting article. Leaves the reader with as many questions as answers so I hope they do a follow-up story. Thanks for mentioning it.
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #28 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

With all due respect to infowars.com, being able to determine the users current location is not the same as recording their movements.

In the worst scenario it save the location the phone was at certain time. Not what the user was doing.
Lawsuits in USA are becoming ridiculous. Lot of people eager to grab a bit of Apple's cash. Maybe for regular people is an issue but for enterprise could be handy lol, like have a GPS watch dog.
post #29 of 84
You can add Ireland to that list.
post #30 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

I don't think that document discusses the usage of the "consolidated.db" file. For example the document talks about:

● Apple transmitting location data. Supposedly, "consolidated.db" is not transmitted anywhere.
● The user being able to turn off location based services. Collection of "consolidated.db" data cannot be turned off.
● Requiring customer consent to collect data. The user is never even informed of the collection of "consolidated.db" data, let alone asked to give consent.

Additionally, because the data is unencrypted and also stored on the computer used to sync your iPhone, the issue is raised of how this data can be used by parties other than Apple and its partners.

data in consolidated.db file are public info such as cell tower location etc, right? so why need to encrypt it? can you provide some examples on why parties other than apple would want it?
post #31 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Interesting, all cell phone companies know where most of their customers are, at ANY time, and ANY time in the past. This has helped to find missing persons in the past, using the GPS encoded pings of the victim's cellphone.

This has been true at least 1 decade. I would be shocked if Apple's iPhone were, illegally, NOT tracking cell phone customer movements. If they were not, I think the FCC would order them to begin complying with tracking requirements.

GPS location data is not transmitted unless a call is placed, and the default setting is only on 911 calls although it can be user enabled for all calls. That was required by the FCC some years back. The wireless providers in general only have access to triangulation, or, in some cases, bearing data.
post #32 of 84
If one needs an alibi, that they didn't commit a crime, or if one want to commit a crime, there are workarounds... In both cases, the attorneys can raise enough Reasonable Doubt that the data in that file has been manipulated and thus is not accurate. By the time Tech Experts on both sides are done trying to convince the Jury, the Jury could either get too confused, or and too smart, and will not be able to agree on their interpretation of the "evidence"... Mistrial, Case Dismissed... Or that particular Evidence will be ignored....

I've seen a some anger about this on NY Times Discussion
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/...g-you-so-what/

In some Comments there was a common theme:

What if one is in some country where things are not very democratic, the authorities can use that info against the political opponents... I agree that it could be a valid concern... So let's imagine a scenario:

In some dictatorship a person is captured by the authorities. The File is now on the screen, and a person is being beaten, questioned about their activities on a given day in the past, at particular time...

Both the authorities and suspect know that nobody can remember their activities too far back, never mind in details. If the authorities want a confession to a any "crime", they won't even bother with such file. They'll beat the suspect until the suspect will sign any kind of admission of the crime... In any case, revolutionaries, good people or criminals, will find the workaround, so that it's harder to trace them...

Jealous Husband and Wife will have to look for a Private Detective who knows about all that technology, and even then they will believe whatever they want to believe, with or without such File...

I am not going to predict how this pseudo scandal will play out... Media needs ratings! The can't constantly talk about real news like Earthquakes, or civil wars, or Deficits, Economy, Sex Scandals, Cancer etc... Media of all kinds will milk/exploit this to various degrees... But, I did notices that the Emphasis in this story was mostly on Apple, and not on Google's Android, or Blackberry... Maybe that's media's way of Divide and Conquer Balancing of Powers, so that neither Apple, nor Google, nor any Phone Makers gets too powerful?

I think Apple should not be required to disclose any more Info on this topic than Any and All Cell Phone and GPS Makers! If there are National Security Implications, then that should be also applied equally! Apple should not be singled out as the worst offender...

In most cases there won't be enough average people who could View that File and Play with it... It's a pretty Geek thing to do play with those Databases... It's not like simple double-click of a simple Text File... Never mind visualizing it on a map through yet another 3rd party application... It all requires more than an average tech skills, and maybe premeditation...

Apple and Google will come out with their lawyers, explain this away, and people will accept this as yet another fact of life.... But for a while, there will be those who will try to exploit it, as if the sky is falling... The lawyers will cost $$... Too bad the $$ spent on such Legal Cases will not go to Cancer Research, Earthquakes, and other Causes that will always need Funding and Donations etc...

 

Go  Apple, AAPL!!!

Reply

 

Go  Apple, AAPL!!!

Reply
post #33 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

However this letter from Apple's general counsel to a couple of members of Congress last year certainly does: <http://markey.house.gov/docs/applemarkeybarton7-12-10.pdf>

I'm rather surprised that the usual tech sites, including this one, have failed to pick up on this.

They have.
The problem is the current situation has nothing to do with what Apple states in that letter.
Also of note in that letter - Apple states that you can 'turn off' the location features. However, you can't. Sliding the location tracking to off does nothing to stop this invasion.

Wired has a good article on the subject.
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/...ation-opt-out/

Apple's PR department is sitting back trying to gauge the public's response. It will be interesting to see how they try to spin this. So far it seems the public isn't buying the BS that this is an accidental bug. Same with Google.
I can see this being a big election issue next year with Obama pushing for more police powers and the Tea Party pushing for upholding constitutional rights. Talk about a confusing twist of ideologies.
post #34 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

No. Cell tower data locations are stored in another file. The data stored in consolidated.db is my location with a maximum granularity of 100 meters at a given time. For the entire time I've owned any iPhone.


It makes no difference at all why someone would want to access my private information. The relevant point is the information is private, not public.

That is not what is in my consolidated.db. It has tables for cell tower and wifi locations amongst other stuff. The lat/long coordinates are accurate for the cell towers in my area - within 100 m. There is no table for phone location, and no location data that correspond to my house or place of work.
post #35 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

No. Cell tower data locations are stored in another file. The data stored in consolidated.db is my location with a maximum granularity of 100 meters at a given time. For the entire time I've owned any iPhone.


It makes no difference at all why someone would want to access my private information. The relevant point is the information is private, not public.

Lost in the discussion is that, knowingly or not, you've likely agreed to location tracking as a condition of using your smartphone.
http://www.bgr.com/2011/04/20/your-s...d-it-was-okay/

Certainly many of the services require an opt-in as a condition of using the application. App's that offer to locate your "lost phone" at little or no charge aren't doing that from the goodness of their heart. They're harvesting location info you agreed to share with them.Using iTunes requires you accept location-sharing. There's dozens of apps I've seen with either wi-fi or gps location tracking listed as a permission granted, even with no obvious need for the app to do so.

You may not like your movements to be logged, gathered, or shared, but you've probably agreed to it. I know most of the EULA's are way too long with lots of legal jargon, but it's probably worth the time to read them before agreeing if your personal privacy is a primary concern.
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #36 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by eacumm View Post

The way I see it, is it could save your ass since it records latitude and longitude along with time stamp, if someone ever accuses you of wrong doing and you was not there.

The glass IS half full!
post #37 of 84
Once they fix this I am suing because location data is not cached properly and my lookups are draining my battery and going slowly.
post #38 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The customers seek refunds for their purchases, because they said they would not have bought Apple's products if they had known of the location tracking.

I'm calling their bluff. Firstly, I'll bet they never even attempted to return their iDevices to Apple for a refund. Secondly I'll also wager that even if offered a refund they wouldn't accept it if it meant they had to actually hand their devices back in.
Hey, this Kool-Aid is delicious, what do you put in it?!
Reply
Hey, this Kool-Aid is delicious, what do you put in it?!
Reply
post #39 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmvsm View Post

These guys must have been in a race to see who could file first. Two New Yorkers (I highly doubt that Vikram Ajjamper is from Florida) vacationing in Tampa couldn't wait to get home in order to file as they might miss the window of opportunity. I say who cares unless you worried about being tracked for something illegal. Being from New York, maybe they have a point.

Ain't it the truth though!

although, i'm not sure Floridians (at least around Miami) are any more honest and law-abiding than New Yorkers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

You are holding it wrong. If you hold your finger across the antenna gap on the bottom left corner, the phone will not log or even detect the cell tower.

Yeah, but that's an undocumented feature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eacumm View Post

The way I see it, is it could save your ass since it records latitude and longitude along with time stamp, if someone ever accuses you of wrong doing and you was not there.

Or give you a false alibi if you lend it to a friend while you go off and commit a crime.

This data would be so easily gamed that i doubt you could use it to defend yourself in a court of law.
post #40 of 84
How could these idiots prove harm? Asinine lawsuit if ever there was one.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Apple already hit with lawsuit over iOS location tracking file