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[liberationtech] iPhones/iPads secretly track 'scary amount' of your movements

Frank Corrigan email at
Wed Apr 20 14:43:48 PDT 2011

I am aware of the general principle of mobile phone tracking, it is just
that most people assume this data is only accessible via cell tower
providers or via a court order/lawful request, not recorded on the
device itself and accessible in an easy to read format to anyone who has
access and inclination or has impounded it for law enforcement purposes.
I suppose it's a bit like the Windows IE index.dat files. Now of course
anyone crossing a USA border can have such devices taken away and such
location data easily copied for later in-situ analysis.


----- Original message -----
From: "Nathan Freitas" <nathan at>
To: "Frank Corrigan" <email at>, "Liberation
Technologies" <liberationtech at>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 16:20:13 -0400
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] iPhones/iPads secretly track 'scary
amount' of    your movements

On 04/20/2011 03:55 PM, Frank Corrigan wrote:
> More reasons for activists/protesters in hostile (ordinary) environments
> not to bring along their mobile phone, latest cell connected gizmo.

... and return to megaphones, flags, smoke signals, carrier pigeons and
frantic arm waving instead? If our ordinary environments are truly
hostile, then either we give up ever using a mobile phone, or we find
some way to address the problem.

Don't get me wrong, this latest revelation on mobile privacy is indeed
scary, and Apple better fess up. I just think we can fix these issues,
instead of allowing them to be disempowering.

In this case at least, turning your phone into "airplane mode" would
have stopped the phone from broadcasting its availability to and
registering with mobile towers. This would stop the active triangulation
of your location from being logged into the local iOS database.

I have an "airplane mode" icon on my Android phone home screen. Anytime
I am not expecting an important call, or am reachable by another means
(email, IM, irc), I generally activate it. Not only does it reduce my
location footprint data trail, but it also saves quite a bit of battery

I also like Google's Latitude Dashboard which encourages user to really
"own it" when it comes to mobile location data tracking. They have a
really pretty UI, charts, etc, that can show you how many minutes a day
you spend at home, the gym, work or your local pub. Their point is that
if government and mobile phone operators already have this data, why
shouldn't you (the user and human being tracked) also benefit from it?

All in all, we shouldn't cede the advantage technology can bring to the
movements and causes we care about because developers at Apple and Skype
(see their recent issue with Android app data permissions) are clearly
make very bad decisions about how they implement their closed-source


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