The Big Kerfuffle Over iPhone Snooping
You may have already heard Apple included a disturbing
feature bug with the iOS 4 update released June 2010, a secret file which kept a running log of the latitude and longitude where the phone was located along with a timestamp. This means the phone was tracking exactly where the user was at all times, with some phones holding complete data all the way back to June of 2010. The data was then copied to the user’s computer whenever they synchronized their phone. Anyone with access to the phone or computer could extract the file, which is just great news if you have a stalker or have a child who uses an iPhone. Users were not asked for permission to log this personally-identifiable user information, nor were they informed of the tracking and given clear opt-out instructions. Security researchers weren’t able to find the same massive invasion of privacy and (frankly speaking) personal endangerment in any other major phone brand.
Adding to the creepiness of all this is the news that the Michigan State Police have been using a handheld CelleBrite UFED to extract “existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags” from most models of phones during stops for minor traffic violations. They were able to bypass the citizens’ passwords to copy all data from smartphones in a matter of minutes, prompting freedom of information requests from the ACLU to determine if any violations of the Fourth Amendment are taking place. The Michigan State Police might have some ‘splaining to do. Speaking of having some explaining to do, Senator Al Franken (it feels weird to type that) addressed a two-page letter (.pdf) to Steve Jobs asking nine questions about the purpose and extent of the location tracking.
How To Encrypt or Destroy Your iPhone’s Location Data
To encrypt the iPhone’s location data, plug it into your computer and launch iTunes. Resist the urge to jam out to your many Hall & Oates songs at iTunes; instead select the iPhone under “Devices”. On the summary page, scroll down and check the box for “Encrypt iPhone backup” then choose a strong password to protect the phone’s location logs. To destroy those logs altogether, Lifehacker is recommending a free jailbreaking app called Untrackerd which runs in the background, periodically deleting any location data in the phone’s history.
- Your iPhone is going all Big Brother on you. (Guardian, banner picture via DaveHitchings)
- Police can copy your iPhone’s private contents in under two minutes. (TheNextWeb)
- Senator Al Franken has some questions for Apple. (ArsTechnica)
- SAI explains how to encrypt your iPhone’s location data, and Lifehacker explains how to destroy your iPhone’s location data with freeware.
- Vera Svechina (seen at left) is a former stripper who followed a blind Google employee through a locked door into Google headquarters in order to leave a Russian book and a note for co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. As with most stalking behaviors, this isn’t an isolated case. In the past she was alleged to have claimed that the Google co-founders murdered her father, that Zynga (all of Zynga) was her family’s idea, and that Google was sending messages into her brain, trying to get her to commit suicide. Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has even filed a restraining order against her. A former stripper being accused of unstable behavior? Unprecedented. (Gizmodo)
- After a $950 million round of funding in January and $16.2 million in February, Groupon is now raising another $6 million. Their total funding is now $1.14 billion. Not bad for a company founded fewer than two and a half years ago. Maybe for their third anniversary they can buy us a pony. (Techcrunch)
KNOW YOUR STATS
- Apple’s iPad 2 is still selling out faster than it can be restocked, but the estimated wait time has dropped to 1 to 2 weeks (from a peak of 4 to 5 weeks). We didn’t even realize the iPad 2 was out, because bloggers only use the finest of aged computers, vintage 2004. *kisses fingertips* Magnifique. (CrunchGear)
- Apple iPhones are still selling like, uh, something that people still sell, unlike hotcakes. Crack. Apple iPhones are still selling like crack. Apple just broke their own sales record by selling 18.65 million iPhones in the second fiscal quarter of 2011. That’s a 15% increase over the first quarter, a quarter which was also 15% higher than the previous quarter. The likely cause of the huge jump in sales?
AT&T stinksThe added option of using a Verizon plan. People hate AT&Tlike having options. (MobileCrunch)
- MobileCrunch also estimates 50% of Apple’s revenue comes from iPhone sales, including carrier agreements, services, and accessories, but not even including the revenue from apps. Hey, remember when they sold computers?