SmartPhones That Know Where You’ve Been

Apple came under fire this week, when it was discovered that iPhones continuously log users’ locations and store them in an unencrypted file on the device. Pete Warden, one of the researchers presenting the finding, told news media that Apple “has made it possible for almost anybody” who could get access to your smartphone or computer to find out where you’ve been. The location data, stored as a sequence of time stamped latitude and longitude values, is copied into iTunes, and uploaded to Apple.

Upon deeper inspection, it was discovered that Android devices do essentially the same thing, sending user location data to Google. Both companies claim that the data is collected anonymously. Google claims that users are made aware that the data is being collected. The apparent disregard for user privacy has motivated the U.S. Congress and the European Union to stand up and take notice. It is likely that Apple and Google will have to answer some tough questions about their business practices.

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