MacRumors reports that Steve Jobs is quoted as saying “We don’t track anyone”.
Wrong. As you can see below, my iPhone has tracked me for quite some time, without my knowledge or consent. I don’t want that data in my iPhone— I want it extirpated, and I don’t want it collected ever again.
- Who writes the software for the iPhone? Apple.
- What collects location information, even with Location Services disabled? Apple’s iPhone with the Apple software, designed by Apple, installed by Apple, locked by Apple.
- Where is the iPhone setting that disables tracking? There isn’t one.
Supposing the tracking information is not sent to a central Apple server (no proof of that has been shown BTW), but that doesn’t change the fact that tracking is occurring.
The real risk is exposure of personal travel information to hackers, governments (think Iran, China, or illegal or secret searches in the USA).
Or a security flaw or virus, or someone stealing your phone, or losing your phone, or a co-worker taking a quick peek (just plug into a laptop for a few seconds, grab, disconnect), an employer, insurer or other entity with a subpoena, anyone looking to spy on another person, or a future “emergency” in which constitutional protections are set aside, etc ad nauseam. It’s not the whole problem with privacy today, but it’s one big brick in the edifice of a growing infrastructure suitable for a police state. And it’s a beauty, because people carry their iPhone or iPad with them everywhere. A personal locater. Perhaps such a device will be required in the future, just like an ID will be.
Think about this information existing for years. Perhaps the rest of your life, as a dossier on everywhere you’ve ever gone.
Yes, the phone company has this information also, and that should be legislated out of existence, with felony legal repercussions for non compliance. All doors on a house need to be locked for a house to be secure, not just the front door.
It’s disingenuous for Steve Jobs to say that because Apple doesn’t send location data back to a central server, that tracking is not occurring. Where the data is stored, and how it is or is not transmitted is a detail that misses the larger picture. I don’t think that Steve Jobs is that dumb, but has rather chosen to make an evasive statement about a very serious issue.
But I don’t know why governments should be upset (as reported in the press)— such tracking would be an extremely powerful tool for any government wishing to exert greater control over its citizens. Apropos today, how about any middle-eastern country looking to monitor citizens not just on an individual basis, but to rapidly defeat any protests as people group together. The prospects for monitoring in this sense are chilling.
Real world nastiness with KGB style tactics
Think the above is theoretical? Name withheld from a reader in Belarus:
While this issue with movement data tracking could be serious for personal privacy (your wife or co-workers or anyone who can grab your phone) you should not worry about government control. Because they have much easier way: same data is collected by mobile operators themselves, for every phone & in real-time.
And in our country (Belarus) it is already working. Police & KGB use this data to catch criminals and/or political protesters. Mass questioning of people whose phones were spotted near some event are organized in case of anti-government rallies or major crimes.
Only thing that could stop government from spying on you right now is the law. But while it will surely help to make such data illegal as an evidence in court, I doubt that even law could completely stop US special agencies from using this data silently.
DIGLLOYD: A portent of what will evolve in the USA, if only our government wasn’t so incompetent. In the future in the USA, a massive surveillance network will spring up due to “national emergency”. This network (which will be denied to exist once actively used as a tool for social control) is already powerful and it already exists: it is called Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, AT&T, Verizon, etc. With a few figurative switches flipped by secret court or executive order, a ready-made surveillance network will spring into existence. The implications for freedom are ominous.