Researchers have discovered what could be a major privacy issue for many iOS device owners. Apple is storing co-ordinates of every location you've ever been to in one unencrypted file.
Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden report that they'd been discussing doing a visualization of mobile data, and while he was researching into what was available, Alasdair discovered this file. At first we werent sure how much data was there, but after we dug further and visualized the extracted data, it became clear that there was a scary amount of detail on our movements. It also became obvious that at least some other people knew about it, but it wasn't being publicized.
The location data is stored in a file called consolidated.db which you can find in your /private/var/root/Library/Caches/locationd folder. It is also copied unencrypted to your computer when doing an iTunes backup.
The more fundamental problem is that Apple are collecting this information at all. Cell-phone providers collect similar data almost inevitably as part of their operations, but its kept behind their firewall. It normally requires a court order to gain access to it, whereas this is available to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer.
By passively logging your location without your permission, Apple have made it possible for anyone from a jealous spouse to a private investigator to get a detailed picture of your movements.
An application has been created to visualize the data found in consolidated.db; however, the spatial and temporal accuracy of the data has been artificially reduced. You can only animate week-by-week even though the data is timed to the second, and if you zoom in youll see the points are constrained to a grid, so your exact location is not revealed. This was done on purpose so the app would not be used inappropriately.
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