Is Apple Really Playing Big Brother?

By Becca Caddy

Like something out of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, earlier this week the media went crazy  the fact that Apple has been keeping tabs on our whereabouts. Yes it seems a bit sneaky, but is it really such a big deal?

On Wednesday UK media outlet The Guardian revealed details that Apple has been keeping a record of where iPhone and iPad 3G users have been going for the past year in a hidden file within the devices.

According to the guys that found out about the top secret little file, security experts Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, since the iOS4 update last year iPhone and some iPad devices have been storing a long list of locations and time stamps documenting users’ movements.

Admittedly this is a little sneaky, but I can’t help but feel the whole issue has been incredibly sensationalised and blown out of proportion by Apple-haters and privacy freaks. After all, how many times have you pressed “OK” without really thinking about it when your iPhone asks you if you want to “Use this location?” There you go, you’re sending information about your location to different places constantly, particularly if you’re into the likes of FourSquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla, the only difference is Apple has been storing it.

Then again I’ve always been really relaxed about privacy concerns, maybe it’s because I just don’t buy into the hype OR I’ve just been stupidly naïve for the past few years…

Either way, if you’re intrigued to see what kind of information is being stored then you’ll be happy to know “there’s an app for that”, sorry, called iPhone Tracker. The application has been developed by the clever, and clearly multi-talented, Warden and Allan and displays the information your device has been storing up on a map, effectively just documenting where you’ve been

There’s been no official word yet about why Apple has been collecting this information, although many people have hinted that it could be because it has new features in mind that will require the need to keep a history of your whereabouts.

It’s also hard to say whether our privacy is really at risk or not. Presumably anyone who gets hold of your device would be able to access all of this information if they knew what they were doing, which I suppose could be problematic for some people. However, from all the stories I’ve read the focus seems to be on the fact jealous spouses and private investigators can now access the information about where you’ve been. Surely not an issue if, you know, you don’t cheat on your partner…

For instructions about how to download the app on your device, because it’s not quite as straightforward as usual, and to find out more about how to protect your privacy after recent revelations then visit iPhone Tracker. BitchBuzz app rating: 5/5 for giving us a bit of visibility on the whole privacy issue!

Becca Caddy is a BitchBuzz Tech columnist and freelance writer. She is also the UK editor of US-based tech blog You can follow her @beccacaddy or read her blog

Image via Stefanoost's Flickr

Fri, 22 Apr 2011 15:50 (GMT+01)
1 Response

"The news that they have nothing to fear has always struck innocents with terror"
Terry Pratchett, slightly paraphrased
How about if your boss checks how often you visit a doctor to see if you might have an illness or are pregnant?

The point is, that even a 'smart' device ought to do what the user tells it to do and not waste resources on unknown tasks.

Mon, 02-May-2011 18:36 GMT

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