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Researchers Discover iPhone File That Contains Your Entire Location History

Researchers Discover iPhone File That Contains Your Entire Location History

Posted April 20, 2011 at 11:40am by iClarified
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 weren’t 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 it’s 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 you’ll 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.

You can learn more at the link below...


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Comments (11)
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Noman
Noman - April 21, 2011 at 1:25am
So when i do restore does thisfile reset too?
Kayvon
Kayvon - April 21, 2011 at 1:18am
LOL What the hell are you talking about? Find another site to comment on. This is for apple news. LOL What language was that.
AnneSummers
AnneSummers - April 22, 2011 at 4:07pm
Why should anyone know where and when I am at any time!? if it is for find my iPhone, which stupid person realises that they've lost the iPhone a year after they lost it!!
Bob
Bob - April 20, 2011 at 11:52pm
Can anyone make a nicer version of iPhoneTracker.app that lets you visualize all of the datapoints against a time format that humans understand instead of a generic week to week approximation? Yes, this can be used for good or evil, I'm asking for the greater good.
Tim Young
Tim Young - April 20, 2011 at 9:31pm
This is very bad news. I feel violated by Apple.
BSoares
BSoares - April 20, 2011 at 2:29pm
Wow, it really works. Showed even other countries I've been to.
John
John - April 20, 2011 at 1:50pm
There was a news item yesterday about how the Michigan State Police are using hardware to extract information form smartphones during routine traffic stops. Most people were concerned about privacy of texts and photos, which is why the ACLU is fighting the practice. I can't help but think that this file would be particularly interesting to law enforcement ...
miPhoney
miPhoney - April 20, 2011 at 1:39pm
I dled the app but it's only for MAC OSX :-/ I'd like to see my locations but have a PC.
iPhonedo
iPhonedo - April 20, 2011 at 12:57pm
the video is so slow and boring, I really needed to slap my self so I don't fall asleep watching it.
billy
billy - April 20, 2011 at 2:17pm
actually they are having nerd sex thats why it seems that way ha ha h ah ah ah ah aha
MS-666
MS-666 - April 20, 2011 at 12:19pm
the question is : Can we delete the file ? & if deleted will it mess up the iPhone ? Just asking, bcoz i hate being tracked ;)
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