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

Frank Corrigan email at franciscorrigan.com
Thu Apr 21 00:55:30 PDT 2011


I am not seeking to conflate or exaggerate the issues I was just
unfamiliar with devices themselves retaining such easy to access and
extensive location data and I understand the ipad and iphone also place
the location data file on any computer used to back them up/sync or
access online services like iTunes. I am aware there is a trade off
between use of technology and the consequential digital footprints, it
is just that Apple has added this function to it's devices without
giving users informed consent of it's activation or explanation of it's
purpose and it does not appear to offer any added value to the
iPhone/iPad users.

I am aware that in depth research needs to be done on the likes of Tor
usage on 3G cell tower connected devices.

Frank


----- Original message -----
From: "Rafal Rohozinski" <r.rohozinski at psiphon.ca>
To: "Liberation Technologies"
<liberationtech at lists">liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 22:51:53 -0400
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] iPhones/iPads secretly track 'scary
amount' of    your movements

It's not just iPhones that record vast amount of data that can be easily
geo-located and reconstruct  person's movements,  networks, and personal
 communication - any cell phone going back 15 years stores  data through
log files, message  and SMS traffic that can be reconstructed and
retrieved to create pretty comprehensive profiles of usage and location.
 Devices that do forensic extraction (UFED) are quite widespread and in
use throughout police forces intelligence agencies as well as  most
cellular carriers  around the world. For those of you for whom  this is
a revelation, I'd advise you to take a look at this website of a leading
provider of UFEDs.  There are some interesting videos, and once you're
done,  take a look at where this company has  it's permanent
representatives.

http://www.cellebrite.com/forensic-products/ufed-physical-pro.html

Time for a reality check. Mobile phones are essentially digital dogtags
so if you're concerned about  the ability they have to track your
movements and  communications -  do like Osama, use  exclusively
off-line means through trusted intermediaries.  Otherwise  accepting
that cell phones are  a risk to privacy is just  the flip side of the
convenience that these devices bring.  With or without Apple  networks
are essentially  spiderwebs    -  that's the essence of modern signals
intelligence. 

It's worrisome that there are a lot of myths   among the activist
community about cell phone security. True, you can "drive up the
negatives" and make it  more difficult for a casual actor to scan or 
obtain PII  from your  phone ( so I  I agree with Nathan) -  but if
you're up against  well resourced opponents, most of these tools  plain
ineffective and their very presence on your phone may be more of a
giveaway that  actually makes you more  of a a target of interest.  
Unfortunately security is not a product or something you can buy
shrink-wrapped in code.  Its practice and process  and  ultimately comes
down to the risks you're willing to take in the service of an objective 
or cause.  And if you want to play in the big tent, it's  good
old-fashioned tradecraft and not better toys that make a difference.

Rafal



On Apr 20, 2011, at 5:43 PM, Frank Corrigan wrote:

> 
> 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.
> 
> Frank
> 
> ----- Original message -----
> From: "Nathan Freitas" <nathan at freitas.net>
> To: "Frank Corrigan" <email at franciscorrigan.com>, "Liberation
> Technologies" <liberationtech at lists">liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu>
> 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
> life!
> 
> 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?
> 
> https://www.google.com/latitude/history/dashboard
> 
> 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
> software.
> 
> Best,
> Nathan
> 
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