iPhone and iPad with iOS 4 records your moves (w/video)

Apr 20, 2011 by John Messina weblog
Researchers have raised privacy fears with the latest discovery: any iPhone or iPad with iOS 4 can track your whereabouts by recording your latitude and longitude coordinates along with a timestamp. Apple was contacted but has not responded to any inquires.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Security researchers have discovered that any iPhone or iPad that has been updated with iOS 4 records everywhere you have been to a secret file. The file is also copied to the owner’s computer whenever the two are synchronized.

According to the Guardian, all your locations are logged to a file called “consolidated.db” and contain latitude and longitude coordinates along with a timestamp. The file can contain tens of thousands of data points since iOS 4’s release in June 2010.

Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, founder of Data Science Toolkit, discovered the file and presented their findings today to the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Alasdair has also looked into Google’s Android phones for similar tracking code and could not find any.

It’s not sure why Apple is collecting this data but it’s clearly intentional because the data is being restored across backups and phone migrations. Apple’s Product team was contacted but no one has responded.

In the following video Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan discuss how the file was discovered and exam the data in the file.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

There is also no evidence that indicates that this data is leaving your phone and being viewed by anyone. Pete Warden has built an application that will allow anyone with an or , using iOS 4, to view the data being stored (see more information below).

iPhone and iPad with iOS 4 records your moves (w/video)
Map displays a visualization of iPhone data collection. Credit: O’Reilly radar.


Explore further: Technology to help people with disabilities to learn and communicate

More information: Guardian, iPhone tracker

Related Stories

Germany warns of Apple security problem

Aug 04, 2010

(AP) -- Several versions of Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch have potentially serious security problems, a German government agency said in an official warning Wednesday.

Apple sets new operating systems for iPhone, Mac

Mar 28, 2011

Apple said Monday that it will unveil the next generation operating systems for the iPhone and the Macintosh computer at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June.

'Robin Hoods of the digital age’

Dec 08, 2010

Many illegal file sharers believe they are the 'Robin Hoods of the digital age' and are motivated by altruism and a desire for notoriety, according to new research which analyses why people illegally download digital media.

Recommended for you

BPG image format judged awesome versus JPEG

Dec 17, 2014

If these three letters could talk, BPG, they would say something like "Farewell, JPEG." Better Portable Graphics (BPG) is a new image format based on HEVC and supported by browsers with a small Javascript ...

Atari's 'E.T.' game joins Smithsonian collection

Dec 15, 2014

One of the "E.T." Atari game cartridges unearthed this year from a heap of garbage buried deep in the New Mexico desert has been added to the video game history collection at the Smithsonian.

User comments : 15

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_B
5 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2011
The NSA can make it so it appears "no evidence that ... data is leaving your phone and being viewed by anyone"
bfast
Apr 20, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
StandingBear
4 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2011
That's IT!!! I will NEVER buy any product from that company ever again, and will dispose of all those that I have in a chemical waste destruction wastedump....Terminate it just like in the movie "Terminator" when Aarrnold jumped into a vat of molten metal. Now that that file has been found, how many OTHER files are there in those boxes from Hades waiting to be found? Not only from that company, but also from any vendor that supplies that company as they are just as guilty of mass invasion of privacy and mass violations of the civil rights of citizens all over the world from many countries.
dogbert
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 20, 2011
Apple has created a group of users who are almost cultish in their support for all things Apple.

I wonder if the revelation of this intentional invasion of privacy by Apple will affect its supporters?
J-n
5 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2011
I wonder if the revelation of this intentional invasion of privacy by Apple will affect its supporters?


It will be viewed as a feature, "look i can see where i've been on a map! That's gonna really be useful if i ever forget where i was!",
then when pressured
"If you DONT want a feature like this on your phone you must have something to hide!! What are you doing in your life that is so illegal/immoral that you don't want people to have access to something as basic as where you've been!??!"
epsi00
not rated yet Apr 20, 2011
Wait until the first time the feature is used in court to convict someone because his iphone tells the police he was there. Then we will see if people will still think of it as a feature or not.
J-n
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2011
It'll be a feature until someone is able to pull the data from the phone and uses it to rob someone's house while they are not home, or uses it to stalk someone. ONLY if it's featured on the news predominantly for several days.
Cave_Man
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2011
I've always hated apple, and everything about apple. it is a greedy manipulative company that exploits their hold on proprietary information and pretends it smells like roses.

(remember the microsoft antitrust suit initiated mainly because macintosh was feeling butthurt, just wait for the apple antitrust, im gonna be laughing when they go down)

Seems like they are trying to fulfill some prophecy too, why would they use the I in front of all their shit like iphone and ipad, are they being ironic? Issac Asimov was the one who coined the whole i,robot thing and his message was of a dystopian future where things are pretty f'ed up, so why would someone make a company that aspires to that?
Skultch
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2011
This IS scary stuff. In no way do I want it to seem that I support this "feature." However, you fanatical Apple haters are just as bad as the "Apple is Jesus" crowd. They don't have a monopoly. They just have a different business model from the PC/Linux model. They control their software and hardware to make it more reliable. And ya know what? IT WORKS!! They make money and their products are more reliable. This is good for the novice tech user. For IT nerds like me, it's just not customizable enough, since I don't feel like hacking into the BSD sub-OS. The only reason this is seen as less advantageous is because Windows 7 is finally a relatively stable platform.

Die hard Apple haters: Why do you care so much what others do? You are just as annoying as the stupid hipsters.
Thex1138
3 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2011
Oh wait... your GPS device tracks and records your every location and you are all fine with that huh... since the iPhone has a GPS feature... hmmmm that's the point huh? So check your GPS log and you will find the little text file with all the same info as you're ragging on about right now... get a grip!
dogbert
3 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2011
Thex1138

Apparently, the Iphone tracks your location even when the GPS is turned off. Probably not as accurate as when GPS is on, but still a record of your movements.
epsi00
5 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2011
Oh wait... your GPS device tracks and records your every location and you are all fine with that huh... since the iPhone has a GPS feature... hmmmm that's the point huh? So check your GPS log and you will find the little text file with all the same info as you're ragging on about right now... get a grip!


Big difference. You know what your gps is doing but no one knew what their iphone was doing and apple conveniently forgot to tell its customers that they were being tracked.
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2011
I like everyone here who has commented can agree on at least one point. It will be VERY interesting to see Apples responce to this, even no responce will be informative.
epsi00
not rated yet Apr 21, 2011
Maybe the idea behind all this is to drop 1000's of iphones from helicopters in the plains, mountains and cities of afghanistan. Then wait for the taliban to find them and start using it and round them up in one night at 4 o'clock in the morning. No more talibans, Apple has won the war in afghanistan that the mighty US army was not able to win.
Magus
not rated yet Apr 21, 2011
Is this information for the MobileMe app so that I can find my stolen phone?
Megadeth312
not rated yet Apr 24, 2011
Is this information for the MobileMe app so that I can find my stolen phone?


No, its different.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.