Thanks to a plethora of bad television shows we’ve known for a long time that the technology onboard a modern smart phone offers law enforcement the ability to pretty much pinpoint the location of its owner. But did you know that your iPhone keeps a log of every place it has been? More importantly did you know that if you sync your phone with a shared computer any other person who uses that computer could have access to that information?
According to the O’Reilly Radar, all of your comings and goings are recorded in a hidden database file, namely “consolidated.db” that contains a list of latitude and longitude coordinates and a timestamp. From there you are a short step away from plotting all of the points on a map. The file is hidden but it is unencrypted, and in amongst the data that is stored any time you back up your phone.
What does this mean? It is hard to say. O’Reilly reports that Apple has thus far kept mum on the movement tracking – and it is not really any different to the information that mobile providers have been recording for some time now… except that the information that the mobile companies could not be accessed without a court order, while the stuff on your iPhone can fairly easily checked out by any curious roommate or jealous lover.
What can you do? Not a lot. You could ask Apple why they want to know everywhere that you’ve been – and if you are concerned about what your roommate or partner might find out, it’s probably too late but seeing as the file stores around a year’s worth of data you probably don’t have to worry; your individual comings and goings will be like a needle in a haystack… It holds all of the information since you upgraded to iOS4 – across all of the phones that you’ve owned. In the future, however, make sure that your phone is off anytime you are up to no good – or if you are really paranoid, you could use burners.