or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Location tracking probe expands despite 2001 FCC law requiring all phones track users
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Location tracking probe expands despite 2001 FCC law requiring all phones track users

post #1 of 127
Thread Starter 
The US House and Senate is widening investigations into mobile location tracking, despite a federal mandate on the books since 2001 that requires wireless carriers to track the location of users.

A report by Reuters noted that the the House Energy and Commerce Committee has sent letters to Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM requesting more information about how devices use and store location data.

The US Senate is also addressing privacy concerns, similarly tipped off by a report that Apple's iOS 4.x devices maintain an internal database cache of generalized location data that appears to never go away, and is compiled regardless of whether Location Services is turned on or not.

The issue has stoked the strongest bipartisan cooperation in American politics seen in recent history, and appears to be generating more interest and scrutiny by elected officials than Net Neutrality, the BP oil spill, employment or the economy at large.

However, the US Congress originally passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act, under which the Federal Communications Commission mandated that, as a report by Geek.com from 2001 noted, all wireless devices "be able to locate 67 percent of callers to 911 within 50 meters that elect the handset solution while those using network technology must be able to locate the caller within 100 meters," a rule that expanded to cover all new cell phones by late 2002.

The purpose of the tracking law was to enable 911 operators to locate mobile users in an emergency. Enhanced 911 services (E911) require mobile operators to relay an emergency caller's location within 50 to 300 meters. E911 laws also apply to many VoIP and femtocell products, such as AT&T's 3G MicroCell, and complicated the deployment of that device due to requirements that callers' locations must be trackable for emergency response purposes.

What has changed in the last decade is that cell phones have shifted from being simple phone devices to being full fledged computers. When Apple's iPhone debuted in 2007, most smartphones ran JavaVM, which limited the capabilities of third party apps.

After Apple added user-accessible GPS services to the iPhone 3G and opened its App Store, it tightly restricted how third party apps could access Location Services, forcing them to ask the user for permission to access location information.

Google's Android OS enhanced the existing Java phone market among vendors such as Motorola, LG and Samsung to run apps of similar sophistication as Apple's iOS, but it also takes a more permissive approach to users' privacy, asking users to grant apps broad rights to access hardware features at their installation.

Both Apple and Google have since expanded their use of location data to power location-based advertising, with both creating opt-out routes for users who do not wish to have their location data used for such purposes. Apple also uses location data to enable users to remotely locate, lock or wipe data from their devices using MobileMe.

Apple has been the target of particular scrutiny for using a database that caches location data to rapidly calculate the user's current location. While this data remains on the phone and is backed up to iTunes, press reports have portrayed it as being instantly delivered to Apple to maintain up to the minute reports of the exact location of the company's 189 million iOS devices.

A similar panic regarding the use of location data as outlined in Apple's iOS privacy policies was converted into the shocking headline "Apple collecting, sharing iPhone users' precise locations" in a piece by David Sarno of the LA Times last summer, generating a swift populist reaction by two congressmen.
post #2 of 127
Detecting the location is different from tracking and storing in the database, is different from storing them unencrypted, and is miles away from sending it back to the server.
post #3 of 127
AKA Elected officials are morons, the public are lemmings, and to find a man who can think for himself is like finding water in a desert. A welcome abstraction.
post #4 of 127
Look, we know that this whole fiasco is nothing, but what does locating people when they call 911 have to do with private companies tracking you for business purposes?
post #5 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprockkets View Post

Look, we know that this whole fiasco is nothing, but what does locating people when they call 911 have to do with private companies tracking you for business purposes?

Where is Apple tracking YOU without your consent?
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #6 of 127
I'm not bothered about whether my phone stores data about where I go. What I am bothered about is that when Apple is asked what data their phone stores, there is a huge silence and no comment from the company, but when Google is asked the same question they give a prompt and clear reply.

What does Apple have to hide?
post #7 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Where is Apple tracking YOU without your consent?

That's not what I asked or brought up.
post #8 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

I'm not bothered about whether my phone stores data about where I go. What I am bothered about is that when Apple is asked what data their phone stores, there is a huge silence and no comment from the company, but when Google is asked the same question they give a prompt and clear reply.

What does Apple have to hide?

WTH?! You know the data it stores. It’s been documented [again] all last week.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #9 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

WTH?! You know the data it stores. Its been documented all last week.

Last week? It was all documented last YEAR... when Congress asked Apple to explain data retention on the iPhone.

Or SEVERAL YEARS ago... when Apple documented the process at WWDC.

Nothing more than a fishing expedition for fun and profit, to avoid the hard work of fixing the country, getting us out of debt, and bringing our GIs home.
post #10 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

I'm not bothered about whether my phone stores data about where I go. What I am bothered about is that when Apple is asked what data their phone stores, there is a huge silence and no comment from the company, but when Google is asked the same question they give a prompt and clear reply.

What does Apple have to hide?

Apple has nothing to hide. In fact, it seems Apple does less with this data (does not send back to its own servers) than Android does.

They are just terrible at PR. The "antennagate" nonsense showed it clearly. This is further confirming that.
post #11 of 127
Why do the title and byline contradict each other?

solipsism: I think the point being made is that Apple have been resolutely silent on the matter. Not that one knows the nuts and bolts of the issue.
post #12 of 127
Doesn't this seem like something that will be fixed as a bug in the next update? I mean, seriously- if Apple does not download the data, then people are getting worked up about what? That the data is stored on your phone?? Didn't they already say it was a bug?

Either way, I'm glad our Congress has something to do now that our national debt crisis, wars in the middle East, weakening dollar, broken education system and loss of manufacturing base have all been fixed.
post #13 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by iansilv View Post

Either way, I'm glad our Congress has something to do now that our national debt crisis, wars in the middle East, weakening dollar, broken education system and loss of manufacturing base have all been fixed.

That's just DeD pushing his spin

Quote:
Originally Posted by iansilv View Post

Doesn't this seem like something that will be fixed as a bug in the next update? I mean, seriously- if Apple does not download the data, then people are getting worked up about what? That the data is stored on your phone?? Didn't they already say it was a bug?

Well, I quite like that I can restore a new iPhone from the backup on my computer and have an identical copy of that phone. So in that sense having the iPhone data on the computer isn't a 'bug', but it's also not telling Apple servers so I'm not really worried.

Ok, perhaps they could encrypt the backup. That'd be useful for other things too. But if I'm that worried then perhaps I should encrypt my drive anyway (which Apple does provide), and that would encrypt my iPhone backup anyway right...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Eran Dilger View Post

A report by Reuters noted that the the House Energy and Commerce Committee has sent letters to Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM requesting more information about how devices use and store location data.

Now if only they could take this location data, and apply it against my iPhoto photos, to give them automatic location data (roughly).

I wonder if Apple has any other intentions for storing data for such a long while. Perhaps a new social-media service that shows your favourite places (based on how long you are there). I can't think of many services that require a year of data besides advertising - but personally I'd rather see an ad for my local Pizza shop than one of the big chains.
post #14 of 127
The title of this article is disingenuous and sloppy, at best. The FCC law, per your own article, doesn't require a historical database of locations. The law doesn't require tracking, it requires the ability to locate in real time!
post #15 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Ok, perhaps they could encrypt the backup. That'd be useful for other things too. But if I'm that worried then perhaps I should encrypt my drive anyway (which Apple does provide), and that would encrypt my iPhone backup anyway right...



"Encrypt iPhone backup" right there front and centre
post #16 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Now if only they could take this location data, and apply it against my iPhoto photos, to give them automatic location data (roughly).

Already does?
post #17 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by iansilv View Post

Doesn't this seem like something that will be fixed as a bug in the next update? I mean, seriously- if Apple does not download the data, then people are getting worked up about what? That the data is stored on your phone?? Didn't they already say it was a bug?

Either way, I'm glad our Congress has something to do now that our national debt crisis, wars in the middle East, weakening dollar, broken education system and loss of manufacturing base have all been fixed.

Apple downloads the data every 12 hours. Google does it several times an hour, and Microsoft stores it directly on their servers.
post #18 of 127
The most irrelevant news post I've seen in quite some time. Singular E911 triangulation for emergency services, needed in case a 911 call is dropped, is quite different from continuous data tracking and storage, which Apple is accused of doing. The only reason I can think this news piece was written was to provide the shoddy and flimsy defense that only a fanboy can provide.

It's like those fanboys who blame the current PSN outage and data compromise on Anonymous, even though it's clearly a black hat or Russian who exploited Sony's incompetence with networks. Disgusting, really. This news post deserves removal for such unabashed dissociation with reality.
post #19 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by onigami View Post

The most irrelevant news post I've seen in quite some time. Singular E911 triangulation for emergency services, needed in case a 911 call is dropped, is quite different from continuous data tracking and storage, which Apple is accused of doing. The only reason I can think this news piece was written was to provide the shoddy and flimsy defense that only a fanboy can provide.

It's like those fanboys who blame the current PSN outage and data compromise on Anonymous, even though it's clearly a black hat or Russian who exploited Sony's incompetence with networks. Disgusting, really. This news post deserves removal for such unabashed dissociation with reality.

I think if you put down your Hysterical Thesaurus for a moment, you might be able to piece together the idea that for a phone to report your location, it needs to be able to calculate it. The purpose of the location database is to find the current location instantly. There is nothing controversial about Apple storing location data in a cache, and the article makes no effort to "excuse" such a non-problem.

If you are afraid of technology, live in a cave. Also, be sure not to use your SSN or activate a camera that uses geolocation or any number of other devices that stores and records data of any sort.
post #20 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...While this data remains on the phone and is backed up to iTunes, press reports have portrayed it as being instantly delivered to Apple to maintain up to the minute reports of the exact location of the company's 189 million iOS devices...

Since this is the crux of the matter, it would have been nice if this report had said "have incorrectly portrayed it..." if that's the case, or "have correctly pointed out that the information is instantly delivered..." if that, instead, is the case. Or, "it's currently unknown whether..."

I think the author was trying to do one of those things, but the language only leaves me guessing.
post #21 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Which would be why they're having Congressional hearings on the matter?

For the same reasons why two people just sued Apple over it. Paranoia, and publicity. It's not as though politicians ever do things to gain publicity, is it? Perish the thought!
post #22 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by macwise View Post

AKA Elected officials are morons, the public are lemmings, and to find a man who can think for himself is like finding water in a desert. A welcome abstraction.

You said it. They will never let any opportunity to get themselves in the papers one way or the other by hook or by crook pass.

I wish they would spend some time on fixing the problems we have instead of wasting it on this non-issiue.

JDS
post #23 of 127
Could someone please tell congress "It's the economy, stupid."? Stop wasting our time and start creating jobs.
post #24 of 127
Only complete morons think this is an issue. My god, my phone is collecting and storing my personal information and only on my own personal devices which I control! Oh, that's right, it's my email, contacts, personal documents, calendar, etc. etc. etc.

Idiots abound!
post #25 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Already does?

The iPhone puts a specific location on iPhone photos.

I meant I'd like iPhoto to take the iPhone location data and combine with my wife's Canon camera to get an approximate location for her shots. Better still to be extremely specific.
post #26 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

A very poorly written article filled with so many bad pieces of information that I'm not going to spend time debunking it.

I'll just say that, speaking as an small iPhone developer, my iPhone is now off and will stay off until this issue is resolved.

Edit: please try to keep an even keel. Attack the idea, not the person.
post #27 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by onigami View Post

The most irrelevant news post I've seen in quite some time. Singular E911 triangulation for emergency services, needed in case a 911 call is dropped, is quite different from continuous data tracking and storage, which Apple is accused of doing. The only reason I can think this news piece was written was to provide the shoddy and flimsy defense that only a fanboy can provide.

It's like those fanboys who blame the current PSN outage and data compromise on Anonymous, even though it's clearly a black hat or Russian who exploited Sony's incompetence with networks. Disgusting, really. This news post deserves removal for such unabashed dissociation with reality.

Edit: last warning! Next time, a point will be awarded, and the post will be deleted.
post #28 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Apparently they do.

You do realize you enter you contacts and such willingly, yes? They are not taken and recorded by Apple regardless of whether you want them to or not. And you do realize that Apple explicitly states, falsely, that it will not collect your location information if you don't want them to.

Irrelevant. It is still YOUR data stored on YOUR device, just like all your other data. Are you still hanging out in your parent's basement playing with yourself? You seem to have nothing better to do than to troll this site when we see you here.
post #29 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

...
And you do realize that Apple explicitly states, falsely, that it will not collect your location information if you don't want them to.

And you do realize... Apple in fact correctly states that they won't collect your location information if you don't want them to, it just turns out the devices keep a log of that anyway. That could be anything from a debug log that someone left turned on by accident to an intentional decision for who knows what reason. <insert conspiracy theory here> - and given the fine laws passed in recent years, it may not need to be a conspiracy theory at this point.

Though it would have made a lot more sense if they tracked location along with phone signal, and DID collect it in an anonymized way (no device id, maybe only day or week time stamp, etc.) in order to get their carriers information on where users are having reception problems, etc. Make it an opt-in/out as well.
post #30 of 127
"The issue has stoked the strongest bipartisan cooperation in American politics seen in recent history, and appears to be generating more interest and scrutiny by elected officials than Net Neutrality, the BP oil spill, employment or the economy at large."

LOL!

Of course it does. This is a group of people as a whole that DOES NOT want the public to know where they go or who they are meeting with. Especially, when it could point to any shady or back room deals. Nobody has more to hide then politicians. Well, maybe the mafia, but that is a toss up.
post #31 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Apple downloads the data every 12 hours. Google does it several times an hour, and Microsoft stores it directly on their servers.

I've been following this story rather closely, and there hasn't been any info yet that I've seen which would indicate Apple ever downloads your location data.

If you're going to throw 100% of the blame on Apple, the onus is on you to reference the data and tell us where you got this tidbit of information from.
post #32 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

... keeping a log of data is collecting data. ....

Balderdash.

Your leaving out the most important part of the accusation which is *who* is collecting the data.

The headlines read "Apple collecting data." Your own phone keeping a log of your own location is (technically) you collecting data on yourself. It is not "collecting data" in the sense of Apple collecting data or in any of the senses meant by the author of this piece, the politicos demanding information, or any of the newspaper stories on the subject.

Keeping a log of data in your phone is not in any way the same thing as "collecting data" as it's used in this story.
post #33 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

I'm not bothered about whether my phone stores data about where I go. What I am bothered about is that when Apple is asked what data their phone stores, there is a huge silence and no comment from the company, but when Google is asked the same question they give a prompt and clear reply.

What does Apple have to hide?

Apple was asked this almost a year ago and they answered then, look it up. If you were asked the same question over and over again, would you still calmly and cooly send out the same press release, or would that make you look dumb and repetitive?
post #34 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Mrstep, keeping a log of data is collecting data.

And as I said, Congress is not accusing Apple or Google of wrong doing. And neither am I. What they are asking for, and what I'd like to see, is an explanation of exactly what data is being collected, why it's being collected, and who is allowed access to it.

From there we can say whether or not we agree with the policies or feel they should be improved.

How many times must this rehashed? The log is kept on your device and in your iTunes folder backup for your device for the very reason one wold expect your phone to know your location on a cellular network. Consolidated.db is not sent to Apple. They are not tracking you.

The only things sent to Apple are zipcodes that are not tied to a device or a user. This is a separate issue from the consolidated.db and was dealt with almost a year ago in both a change in the privacy policy and a letter to a senator explaining all this.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #35 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Which would be why they're having Congressional hearings on the matter?

Congressional hearings happen because Congressmen (and the occasional congresswoman), need to appear to be doing things and if it's something non-political that they can be a "champion of the people" on, mores the better. This kind of issue is perfect for them, I'm only disappointed that Al Franken would stoop so low or be so stupid. He's generally a smart and honest guy.

Even if sometimes Congressional committees are actually doing the right thing, the main impetus for them doing it is still publicity.
post #36 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

I'd hazard a guess that Congress would disagree with you on that. Apple has already submitted a statement to Congress about how they collect and use data. Using the interpretation of "collect data" that I'm using (a pretty normal usage, btw), the statement Apple submitted to Congress is demonstrably false.

Which explains why Congress is asking Apple to testify again. Their prior statements, which have been entered into the Congressional record, are false and clarification and/or correction is needed.

So are you arguing that it doesn't matter whether the data are transmitted to Apple rather than just kept on your phone/computer, or that what matters right now is to determine what is transmitted to Apple?

I would agree that even though these are not accurate phone location data, it would be nice to know whether they are being shared with Apple, and if so, whether they are anonymized in the process or not.
post #37 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

...speaking as an small iPhone developer...


This is something That I doubt. Seriously.
post #38 of 127
In 2002 I was forced to throw away two great, and virtually new, Motorola StarTac cell phones because the FCC would not allow renewal if they didn't have GPS recording.
And, for an additional FCC bit of stupidity, have you ever wanted to get an area TV station but the provider(Cable or Dish) told you it wasn't offered?
Well blame the FCC for a 400 page document (of every county of every state in the US ) that lists the TV channels that can ONLY be viewed by each county's residents. Those TV signal dividing lines are FCC mandated and based on strictly political divisions. By the way, our tax dollars paid for that very expensive nationwide Neilson survey that generated the TV document so you can not have freedom of choice when viewing and, of course, our Taxes pay for the FCC make work bureau as well.
post #39 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Well, as I understand it, the purpose of the hearings is to determine how this data is being used. Congress has not accused either Apple nor Google of wrong-doing, but rather they are seeking clarity on the policies.

In the case of Apple, this data isn't covered by section 4B of their iPhone EULA because you can not turn off the collection process. Additionally, they've provided no reason why they would need an un-ending history of your movements, and the policy of making the data backups for this type of data unencrypted by default seems to be poorly thought out. It allows people other than Apple and its partners access to the data.

So, to me, this seems like a needed exercise. Explain to the public why this data is being collected and exactly how it's being used and who else, other than Apple and it's partners, is allowed to use it. Then fix any bugs and correct any poorly thought out policies.

Except that this was explained a year ago to Congress by Apple. This isn't something new, or something that they don't already know. Apple stated that it was for the purpose of building up a map of Cell towers, as other cell providers are doing. It's to aid the purpose of knowing where people in general are going so as to find the most needed places for transmitters.

It was made plenty clear. Why the database in the phone holds such old data, I don't know, but as that data is being collected every 12 hours, it can be kept forever anyway, so I don't see the big deal here. As it can also easily be encrypted, it's not something that's being collected no matter what. If someone doesn't want others to see it, they can encrypt their data backups.

What I consider far more invidious is what Eric Schmitt said several times in speeches about Google's intentions, which is something being forgotten in this situation. He, quite baldly, said that that someday Google would know more about you than you do about yourself, and that they would make decisions for you before you knew you would want to make them. Now, THAT worries me!

I don't recall Apple ever indicating, at any time, that something like that was in their sights.
post #40 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

From my own personal standpoint, I want to know Apple's policies for collecting, transmitting, storing, using, and sharing location data and other personal information.

That seems completely reasonable. I think that where this issue is escalating out of all proportion is in the detail of the inaccurate assertions that are appearing in the media regarding the nature of the data and the unverified assertions that they are being transmitted to Apple.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
  • Location tracking probe expands despite 2001 FCC law requiring all phones track users
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Location tracking probe expands despite 2001 FCC law requiring all phones track users