This information is stored in unencrypted files, rendering this easy for a tech-savvy person to obtain. This new information comes from two British Researchers at the University of Exeter.
“All iPhones appear to log your location to a file called consolidated db,” said Alasdair Allan, who is one of the researchers that found this iPhone capability. Allan and Pete Warden reported their findings yesterday at a conference in Santa Clara, California, according to CNN.
The consolidated db file contains latitude and longitude that is coordinated with a time stamp. Allan and Warden found this out by accident, while they were investigating which contact information was available on Allan’s Apple iPhone 4.
The Apple iPhone had recorded Allan‘s location 220,000 times in 293 days, which was the entire length of time that Allan had owned the phone. His iPhone had tracked, recorded and stored his entire whereabouts for this time. This surprise finding has sparked much controversy today.
The Iphone is being called the "spy phone" in many news articles today such as this article from "Telecom."
"Apple has made it possible for anyone from a jealous spouse to a private investigator to get a detailed picture of your movement," according to Allan. The tracking information is in Apple’s latest iPhone software, as well as on iPads with a cellular data plan. When using iTunes, the information about a user’s location is also backed up on their computer, when they synchronize either portal device.
"Cell phone providers collect similar data almost inevitably as part of their operations, but it's kept behind their firewall. It normally requires a court order to gain access to it, whereas this is available to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer," according to the CNN article.
According to CNN, this unauthorized surveillance started when the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system was released in June 2010.
Allan also said that a hacker would find it relatively easy to access the unencrypted files, especially if the user loses their Apple iPhone or iPad. Apple still has not commented on this newest reported discovery.
A free program to map the tracking data has been created by Alan and Warden. Gizmodo editor, Sam Biddle, published the results of the tracking data online.
"This is a map of everywhere I've been for the last months. Everywhere," Biddle writes. "I didn't carry around a tracking device. The FBI isn't sending goons in unmarked vans to track me. All I did was use an Apple iPhone."
Reference: CNN, Telecom