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

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  • Reply 81 of 145
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,508member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    It's also lying around on your computer via iTunes. From there, anyone can write a Mac or PC application that accesses the data. Two guys doing exactly that is what set this whole thing off to begin with.



    This was known a year earlier. These two guys came late to the party.

    In addition, as has been pointed out in numerous articles on a number of sites already, the info is so imprecise that it can't be used to actually know where you were, just a very vague area.
  • Reply 82 of 145
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,508member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post


    I still don't see where it says that the data may be transmitted if location services are off. I'm looking at page 7 main text and footnote 8. What am I missing?



    As I said, it begins at the bottom of page 5 part "C". That explains what Apple is doing about its information that doesn't depend on your constantly agreeing to sharing your location.
  • Reply 83 of 145
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,508member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Just as a reminder, the issue isn't just whether or not Apple is collecting data. It's also who has access to your data via iTunes.



    With that said, I'm off to bed.



    This has nothing to do with iTunes itself, just this one file which as you know by now can be encrypted when backing it up to iTunes, if you're so inclined.



    As for being concerned about it as some seem to be:



    http://www.pcworld.com/article/22612...t_ominous.html
  • Reply 84 of 145
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,229member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post


    You stated previously in post 18 that these data are transmitted to Apple every 12 hours, and another poster commented that this information seemed inconsistent with most other reports. Do you have a source or reference for that?



    http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002145.html



    Note: The data is anonymized. It is NOT transmitted if you opt-out.
  • Reply 85 of 145
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    As I said, it begins at the bottom of page 5 part "C". That explains what Apple is doing about its information that doesn't depend on your constantly agreeing to sharing your location.



    I guess I still disagree with your interpretation. I think you have to read C.1.a in its entirety to see the restrictions, which I think do prevent transmission if location services are off:



    First, when a customer requests current location information, the device encrypts and transmits Cell Tower and Wi-Fi Access Point Information and the device's GPS coordinates (if available) over a secure Wi-Fi Internet connection to Apple.



    Second, to help Apple update and maintain its database with known location information, Apple may also collect and transmit Cell Tower and Wi-Fi Access Point Information automatically. With one exception Apple automatically collects this information only (1) if the device's location-based service capabilities are toggled to "On" and (2) the customer uses an application requiring location-based information.



    The exception referred to is:



    For GPS-enabled devices with location-based service capabilities toggled to "On," Apple automatically collects Wi-Fi Access Point Information and GPS coordinates when a device is searching for a cellular network, such as when the device is first turned on or trying to re-establish a dropped connection. The device searches for nearby Wi-Fi access points for approximately thirty seconds. The device collects anonymous Wi-Fi Access Point Information for those that it can "see." This information and the GPS coordinates are stored (or "batched") on the device and added to the information sent to Apple. None of the information transmitted to Apple is associated with a particular user or device.
  • Reply 86 of 145
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post


    Oddly, there is little indication my 4 points are wrong.




    But then how could we be freaked out? You spoiled the fun.
  • Reply 87 of 145
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post


    http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002145.html



    Note: The data is anonymized. It is NOT transmitted if you opt-out.



    Again, this is just speculation on the part of the folks who wrote that article. It's not a policy statement from Apple. And it's speculation that, on the face of it, does't make a lot of sense. Why would Apple be collecting that information in consolidated.db if consolidated.db is not sent to Apple? They can't build a database from data they never receive.
  • Reply 88 of 145
    dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member
    Well, it seems the info isn't very accurate in my case. When I ran the tracking program, it shows I was in and around Las Vegas about a half year ago. Too bad the last time I was anywhere near Las Vegas, or more than 300 miles west of NJ for that matter, was before the first iPod was introduced.



    Generally speaking it shows where I've been since I got my iP4 back in July '10, but nothing really accurate to the point of incrimination. It's a non issue for me. I have nothing to hide and there's nothing I do that I need to be paranoid about someone finding out.



    Call me ignorant, call me stupid, but I don't know what the big deal is. I'd actually rather it be there than not be there. It could even get me, or someone with me, out of trouble of a wrongful accusation at some point in time.



    My two pennies.
  • Reply 89 of 145
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    This has nothing to do with iTunes itself, just this one file which as you know by now can be encrypted when backing it up to iTunes, if you're so inclined.



    As for being concerned about it as some seem to be:



    http://www.pcworld.com/article/22612...t_ominous.html



    Understood. Where I'm coming from is more along the lines of what's said in this article: http://www.pcworld.com/article/22600...questions.html



    It's not a claim that Apple is being Evil, just there's a lack of clarity on these privicy issues. And clarity needs to come from Apple, not from other people guessing what Apple is doing, no matter how intelligent the folks doing the guessing may be.



    And with that, I'm off to bed. I really mean it this time.
  • Reply 90 of 145
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Is there an app that we can use to visualise the data being tracked in that file? That would be really cool to see where exactly it has tracked me.



    You know, before I go all crazy about being tracked.*



    *Eg. a post on MacRumors (As a former sufferer of paranoia, this is hella funny but also quite screwed up):

    Originally Posted by applemagic123

    Why is iphone tracker app only available for snow leopard? What is it with these pigs making all their software for snow leopard only? I have the snow leopard disk but I ain't installing that POS OS on my machine. All my backups are on regular leopard.



    And WHY THE F&#^ is untrackerd ONLY available for 4.0!!! WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL WITH 4.0!!???? I need to erase my locations. A couple weeks ago there were cops just chillin' outside my house. They left within about 20 minutes, but still. I smoke marijuana, I don't want cops knowing S#I# about me!



    And people wondering why I'm so mad...I have a 2g iphone on 3.1.3 Even if I had a 3gs, I would still keep it on 3.1.3 4.0 backgrounding isn't even REAL backgrounding! That's what backgrounder is for! And please, for the love of GOD, don't start talking about how oh, I shouldn't smoke weed, oh blah blah blah.
  • Reply 91 of 145
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post


    Well, it seems the info isn't very accurate in my case. When I ran the tracking program, it shows I was in and around Las Vegas about a half year ago. Too bad the last time I was anywhere near Las Vegas, or more than 300 miles west of NJ for that matter, was before the first iPod was introduced.



    Generally speaking it shows where I've been since I got my iP4 back in July '10, but nothing really accurate to the point of incrimination. It's a non issue for me. I have nothing to hide and there's nothing I do that I need to be paranoid about someone finding out.



    Call me ignorant, call me stupid, but I don't know what the big deal is. I'd actually rather it be there than not be there. It could even get me, or someone with me, out of trouble of a wrongful accusation at some point in time.



    My two pennies.



    Where is the tracking program? I will search for it but if someone can chime in that would be great.
  • Reply 92 of 145
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Okay, here's the link to see what exactly has been tracked:

    http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/
  • Reply 93 of 145
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Wow. Pretty damn cool, actually. But certainly frightening for some people. I think the issue that Apple has to address, and soon, is why it keeps this data on a permanent-cache basis and why it does it continually rather than on-demand by certain apps or what not.



    The other point it raises is that it is able to pull location data even when many apps and the Maps app says "location cannot be determined". I suppose there is a filter on these apps that determine the accuracy of the location and decides how valid the location is. What is interesting and concerning is that this location is tracked regularly behind-the-scenes.



    Fascinating indeed. Now to log on to Cydia and zap the file. (untrackerd by Ryan Petrich)
  • Reply 94 of 145
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,229member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Again, this is just speculation on the part of the folks who wrote that article. It's not a policy statement from Apple. And it's speculation that, on the face of it, does't make a lot of sense. Why would Apple be collecting that information in consolidated.db if consolidated.db is not sent to Apple? They can't build a database from data they never receive.



    To aid in assisted GPS or other functions? The cached data might have other uses than just sending to Apple. To build a local database? You are making the assumption the data has but a single purpose.



    It is not to hard of a concept for a programmer to grasp.
  • Reply 95 of 145
    djdjdjdj Posts: 74member
    There is SO much bad information in here it isn't even funny.
    • The data collected is stored on the phone and synchronized through iTunes to your computer.

    • The file on the computer can be encrypted, but it is not by default.

    • The file on the phone is inaccessible to regular apps, but totally accessible to apps that have been installed on jailbroken phones.

    • The logging of data on the phone cannot be turned off, even if Location Services are disabled.

    • The log file on the phone cannot be reset or deleted.

    • The current file format (unencrypted plain text) is new with iOS 4.x, but the iPhone has been doing this in the last several major releases.

    • If a phone is jailbroken, the data file can be obtained remotely via SSH.

    • If a phone is lost or stolen, a quick jailbreak can make the file accessible to anyone.

    • Apple stated last year that they collect location information, but this can be turned off by disabling Location Services. This does NOT apply in this situation.

    • If you replace your phone, prior location information is copied to the new phone, creating a log going back much longer than you have had the replacement phone.

    • Apple has made no comment on this issue.

    • This has nothing whatsoever to do with the FCC mandate that callers to 911 must be triangulated.

    • The phone does not need a huge log of everywhere you have been, along with when, to locate your location quickly. This can be done much more easily with a much simpler data format.

    • The utility you can download that shows you your historical location information intentionally obfuscates and reduces the accuracy of location information. The author states this on the home page. If this is used to come to the determination that the recorded location isn't accurate enough to mean anything, this is just wrong. The information recorded is good enough for E911.

    • Android location tracking is disclosed when you setup the device (or application), and it can be disabled.

    • The iOS devices are the only ones that keep a running log of location.

    Personally, I wouldn't want someone to be able to track my location remotely. Through a jailbreak hack, or even a known security exploit of the phone, it is entirely possible that someone could target an iPhone owner remotely and download the data. Also, for those running computers infected with malware such as spyware, trojan, or bot, it would be very easy for someone to grab this information.



    When you start to take things like the safety of your family into consideration, this is pretty bad stuff. I don't have anything to hide, but I certainly don't want an anonymous stranger being given access to my historical location information, let alone my current location.



    Apple needs to turn this off, or at least give end users a way of doing so themselves.
  • Reply 96 of 145
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,229member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djdj View Post


    There is SO much bad information in here it isn't even funny.





    .

    .

    .





    Personally, I wouldn't want someone to be able to track my location remotely. Through a jailbreak hack, or even a known security exploit of the phone, it is entirely possible that someone could target an iPhone owner remotely and download the data. Also, for those running computers infected with malware such as spyware, trojan, or bot, it would be very easy for someone to grab this information.



    *The data is not tracking the location of the phone and typically represents positions miles from the actual phone.



    * Apple also discloses this when the device is updated of first initialized with iTunes though it is a bit more opaque.
  • Reply 97 of 145
    bwikbwik Posts: 565member
    AI, thank you for expanding on my earlier comments. I am not a fanboi. But it is clear that tracking is the norm -- the legal requirement -- for US cellphones. So this is basically all a howling cry about nothing.
  • Reply 98 of 145
    pridonpridon Posts: 81member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    That's just DeD pushing his spin







    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...







    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.





    I read on a blog yesterday that there is software which will match the time stamp on the photo with the time stamp on the track and geo-locate your photos. Sorry, I can't remember which blog it was on.
  • Reply 99 of 145
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post


    *The data is not tracking the location of the phone and typically represents positions miles from the actual phone.



    * Apple also discloses this when the device is updated of first initialized with iTunes though it is a bit more opaque.



    If you take a look at the link nvidea2008 provided, http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/ you'll see they're saying the file does track your location. It's not tracking cell towers and the granularity they show in the video seems to be within a block or two, not the mile or two, 45 miles, or half a continent away others have said.



    And again, the claim that Apple discloses this usage is someone's guess on what's going on and their interpretation of a dialog box. And it's a guess that make no sense what so ever as the data isn't sent to Apple but the dialog box talks about sending data to Apple.



    The point to me posting this isn't to try to pick argument with you, but to point out the people who should be describing Apples policies and practices is Apple, not random guys on the net.
  • Reply 100 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    Most relevant info begins at the bottom of page 5 part C -Location based information.



    http://markey.house.gov/docs/applema...ton7-12-10.pdf



    Thanks Melgross, great link.



    Apple sends the wifi point and towers it can see to Apple when it's looking for a location, and receives data back about those wifi points and tower positions. Anonymously. And when the GPS is on and working, Apple logs the wifi access points and towers it can see, including identifying info and strength of signals, from that GPS location - it then sends it to Apple every 12 hours.



    So if you're in a building or house which has no location data (except the local cell tower), get somewhere outdoors where you have a clear GPS signal AND can see some wifi coming from inside, and the phone will update Apple so later when in the building you'll have location data.



    I wonder how much this relates to the current controversy. I mean, if that data (sent every 12 hours) is recorded for longer - then the only time it's not anonymous is when someone hacks your phone (or phone backup) and looks at the anonymous data on it - and for the time Apple sends your phone the data on wifi access point locations (Apple must know what phone to send the data to)... so how long do they keep your phone information?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post


    Well, it seems the info isn't very accurate in my case. When I ran the tracking program, it shows I was in and around Las Vegas about a half year ago. Too bad the last time I was anywhere near Las Vegas, or more than 300 miles west of NJ for that matter, was before the first iPod was introduced.



    Sometimes a wifi access point gets moved, so it's location information is suspect. Apple mentions in the above linked article that it updates information due to technology changes (or something similarly vague) which I presume is to recognise a moving wifi point as being untrustworthy.



    Your location data might have been used by Apple to recognise the wifi point is incorrect, and your phone thought for a minute it was somewhere else - but your phone was never updated with a correction because this is forgotten data with no need to update.



    I still want to use this data to help add locations to my (non-iPhone) photos.
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