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

Erik Sundelof erik at
Thu Apr 21 13:05:23 PDT 2011


I am a big fan of Android of many other reasons, but I do think your arguments are not competely fair. Based on my knowledge of advertising in a previous life I would probably say that Google is no better than Apple here. They are a for-profit advertising agent more than anyone. Sure they probably have made unsubscribe options clearer  (respect for that) but Apple did in fact say explicitable that they might be logging this data. Putting this open for anyone to and is beyond me though as you also pointed out.

As far as Android they have a much heavier approach for cloud storage why I wouldn't be surprised if they track movements more directly.

It is a very simple solution. The second you use a third party solution you will have to be a bit paranoid about what they track even if it is not clear if they do.

I want to again remind everyone that most commercial websites and apps WILL track users and create profiles of them. In particular if they are advertising based or have that as a possible model. Every app or website I know will track you and most terms of use clearly state that it will track your actions.




Sent from my iPad

On Apr 21, 2011, at 12:31 PM, Nathan Freitas <nathan at> wrote:

> On 04/21/2011 02:51 PM, Ian Gallagher wrote:
>> As Rafal mentioned, it's certainly not only the iOS devices responsible for recording and retaining this data - here's a quick example that someone put together to demonstrate that similar data also exists on Android phones:
> Good work, but I think it is useful to point out, that even though
> similar data exists on Android, the actual implementation of how and
> where this data is stored (or not) shows how subtle decisions in
> implementing features by engineers can make a world of difference.
> 1) The README states "You will need root access to the device to read
> this directory."
> I believe the location data on iOS was stored in user data space
> readable by any app without special permissions. That was a chief
> concern of the O'Reilly post, not just that the data existed. This means
> a malicious app without root permission on Android could not access this
> location cache, though a law enforcement professional with the right
> hardware would most likely be able to.
> 2) I checked my own personal Android device
> /data/data/ and it was empty. This is
> because I have the location features turned off in Android preferences.
> I don't believe there is a similar way to turn the data collection off
> in iOS. Again, I don't mind if this data is there, so long as I can
> choose when to turn on and off its collection.
> 3) All in all, based on my experience with Android development, this
> seems much more like a short term cache, and not an endless log, but
> we'll have to dig further on a device with location enabled to determine
> that. It isn't being synced to a desktop in anyway, or otherwise leaving
> the device.
>> I wouldn't be at all surprised if most other phones log and retain similar information on the client-side.
> A survey of location data retention on all smart or feature phones with
> GPS and CellID based location capability should definitely be done.
> +n
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