Do you know where your iPhone is? Well it knows where you are and it’s recording your location. Don’t you remember hitting the allow button when asked “iPhone would like to use your location”? You probably don’t, because there was no prompt. Data Scientists Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have discovered a file in iOS 4 that records your location and stores it into a db file. The tracking is believed to have begun with the iOS 4 update. The file is called consolidated.db and is an unencrypted file in the OS. The file can be accessed from the phone or from any computer that the iPhone has synced with as well.
The data in the db file itself are coordinates (latitude, longitude) and a timestamp. According to the finders, there can be thousands of data points in the db that could date up to a year ago. There was also no evidence of the data being sent anywhere from the device or any computers the phone has synced with. Allan and Warden will be giving their findings today at the Where 2.0 conference in California today.
There is one word that should come from all of this: PRIVACY! If you lose your phone, anyone knowingly can access your location for the past year. Even though providers already keep this data, they have it locked down and protected. Some of us foursquare users already share our location with others, but we clicked a button to allow the application to do that. This was unknowingly to us users that Apple was storing this data, and it’s still unknown as to why or how it is being used.
The finders also created an application that allows you the user to view your tracking data on a map. Find that program here.