So, if your iPhone is spying on you, who benefits?
Reports that iPhones and Android phones track the owners' movements have revived privacy concerns. The list of who wants the data – from police to marketers – is potentially a long one.
(Page 2 of 2)
The company offers a course on “iPhone Forensics” it says will teach participants “how to recover stored and deleted data.” According to its website, it is targeted to “law enforcement,” “military intelligence operatives,” and “corporate fraud investigators,” among others.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“This is not just about Apple,” she says, “it’s about the broader question about how electronic devices have become integrated in our daily lives. That’s fantastic, but at the same time, it’s a new reality for the rest of us who didn’t grow up with them and are struggling to understand what the privacy trade-offs are in using them.”
Ms. Crump adds that even though “we’ve all become heavily reliant” on the devices, it is becoming evident they are designed to “collect or share new information in ways that we don’t’ completely understand.”
What happens next is likely government scrutiny. Several members of Congress have already sent letters to Apple. Sen. Al Franken (D) of Minnesota wrote that “anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken.”
Consent by users
Last July Apple responded to an inquiry from Reps. Ed Markey (D) of Massachusetts and Joe Barton (R) of Texas with a letter stating that the “latitude and longitude coordinates are not kept or otherwise associated with an individual,” an assertion contradicted by the research findings this week.
The company also wrote that “by using any location-based services on your iPhone,” users “agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data to provide products and services.”
Jacqui Cheng, the senior Apple editor at Ars Technica, a technology news website, says the revelations this week will not likely affect sales of either the Apple or Google devices, however she does predict that, in the case of Apple, a software fix will likely take place.
“They might change so it only tracks recent [physical movements], but I can’t see [Apple] getting rid of it altogether because they use the data to improve location tracking to figure out where the Wi-Fi hotspots are,” she says.