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back to article Apple breaks location-storing silence

Apple has clarified that it does not store location data on handsets, and that it does, and that it's going to stop soon... only it isn't... and it's nothing to worry about anyway. Apple takes full responsibility for the fuss: the company apparently failed to educate us properly about what it was doing. Apple's statement then …

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Anonymous Coward

Not that Cupertino isn't keeping track of where you are - it just isn't storing that data.

Shenanigans!!!!

Apple IS storing that data...just not in this exact instance and not all at once...take multiple datasources and cross reference them to find a way to link them and volia, you have user tracking information. It really wouldn't be hard for any of the big OS providers to do this with the data they already collect over various different services...We just rely on them not doing it.

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Megaphone

da blingy ringy tings

do peeps not appreciate that the growing plethora of devices like these are pretty much designed for gathering profile information so they can be better targets in the markets. It's been said many times before and it's sooo true. End users are the product not the client. The marketeers are the clients ready to hoover up all the inflowmation they can, it can helps them makes some monies that way. I guess that with reasonable base station info they can deduce that you hang around Oxford Street quite a lot and maybe you would like to be kept up to date with directions to Tampon (sorry Topman) 'n all that. I dunno, but I do know I don't want any of it. I'm quite happy working out what I want and don't want all by myself thank you.

yours Scott (ludite grumpy)

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

"Apple has clarified that it does not store location data on handsets, and that it does, and that it's going to stop soon... only it isn't... and it's nothing to worry about anyway."

Fansastic!!!

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Remember

"There is an old, and well trusted, IT adage that one should never, ever, underestimate the stupidity of the user."

plus, these are Apple users too...

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Hold your horses!

But loads of people love their 'location aware' apps. They are a very popular section of both apple and android app stores. Most users don't care how much information is gathered, they just love to say, Hey, look at this. I can .... (whatever the latest gizmo thingy does). They just bloody love 'em and don't care.

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Loads of people

I am lead to believe that "loads of people love" being whipped. That's fine for them, but I don't want it thanks. Just because they want it, why should I be forced to have it? (Even if I have upset the moderatrix)

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LPF
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God you lot talk so much gibberish!

If someone wanted to follow you they would not steal your bloody phone, they would just follow you !

So , now that the info is out , which has made your tin foil boloocks look like the stupidity it is, you still can't leave i alone lol

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FAIL

Tell me please...

...how much does it cost to follow 1000 people 24 hours a day. On the other hand, how much does it cost to write a naff but possibly catchy game, and give it away free to 1000 iPhone users?

As far as stealing your phone; you'd notice that, but what has been reported is that there is a file on your phone, and they don't have to steal your phone to read it.

Also the fact that they can decide to "follow" your movements AFTER you have made them. How much does it cost to follow someone afterwards (what's the going rate for a time machine these days?)

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..and they don't have to steal your phone to read it

Oh, so how does Moriarty get hold of the file then?

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Joke

Re: Moriarty

Easy - he steals the computer you synced your phone to. There, sorted.

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Paris Hilton

@BristolBachelor

Genuinely asking - where does it say that an app can get access to consolidated.db? As far as I was aware it wasn't an accessible file to anything but iOS. I'd be rather surprised if a "naff but possibly catchy game" was able to read it.

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@Annihilator

Sorry? What are you doing here? You are seriously talking too much sense 8-)

Apple have slightly cocked up here by not deleting this A-GPS consolidated.db when you turn off the "location services" option and also by backing it up when its not required ... wow shock horror software has bugs .. who'da thunk it?

Cockup not conspiracy everytime.

Show me a modern online technology/site/gadget that does not attempt to target adverts at you .. sorry digital watches don't count. My TV does not get the targetting right but that's coz I point my aerial to the "wrong" transmitter in another county. I hate all forms of adver[blipvert]tising but I've learnt this great technique.... I "ignore them" (tm).

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Paris Hilton

hmm point?

"Admits underestimating stupidity of its users*"

I fail to see any relevance to that adage and this episode.

Besides, any collection of location information 'around' where I've been is still a breach of privacy without my consent. Whether it's stored or processed it's irrelevant.

It's bad enough that there's a back-door for government agencies to track people with cell phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Except it was with your consent

It's written there on the Terms & Conditions

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Anonymous Coward

@+++ath0

Hasn't it been accepted that burying these sorts of conditions in the Ts&Cs is not an acceptable or even legally sound practice?

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Anonymous Coward

It needs to be *informed* consent...

...and burying it in the terms and conditions doesn't qualify.

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Anonymous Coward

Except it's not

Buried I mean. They even made a section for it with a title in bold font.

But going by some commentards I can see reading actual words may be asking too much. Maybe they'll make a really patronising video next time, like those Google makes (but strangely hasn't in this case)

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Anonymous Coward

Except there's no way to turn it off

And the terms and conditions make no mention about giving data to marketers or future projects. But that's a bug too right? Right.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes right

Well you're gettin into a stupid pedantic fight, who buys a smartphone and turn off location services. But yes it was bug and you'll be able to clear your data and stop collecting it.

Now go ask your pals at Google why are they sending unique device ids to to their Admob people and leave me alone. Is that a bug too?

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Joke

The reallly exciting part is...

to improve matters, instead of downloading data files with black text on a white background on the black iPhones, they are going to download white text on black backgrounds for white iPhones!!!

Color coordinated privacy invasion. :)

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Black Helicopters

What...

....you mean that, thanks to a bunch of panicky spacks, they are going to stop be being able to remind myself of where I've been and things that happened ages ago?

Thanks a fucking bunch paranoid freaks and scaremongers.

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Jobs Horns

Bullshit

Future locations? That's why you can trace your past whereabouts, I guess. It's just future that happened to take place a while ago...

Also, bugs? Yeah, right. Very likely. (The Las Vegas thing is a bug, that I can believe. The recording of the infor? A bug? Do Apple really think their customers are all completely braindead? Wait, don't answer this last one)

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WTF?

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

"[...]keeping the database it up to date and correcting any errors.[....]An Android device which wants to know where it is will send the local transmitter (Wi-Fi and cellular) identities to Google, which consults the database and, if there's a match, responds with a rough location."

Hang on a minute - is this not the data collected by Street View that was being deleted all over the place, just being updated again as handsets instead of google cars go past?

And please can we nb that this is droid and ios!

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Black Helicopters

heh

So, now even BETTER for the police... they can not only arrest people who were in the area of a crime, but also arrest those with INTENT to go to a possible crime scene - minority report, anybody?!

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Dead Vulture

...The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

We knew you were going to say that.

Please remove all metallic objects from your person, put your hands in the air and step outside.

The officers have been waiting for you.

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Maybe they can tell me...

When and where my next vacation will be.

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Grenade

Can Google now publish their side of the story then?

I bet they were just waiting for Apple's so they could just lift it, maybe put with a few ads around it as well.

Microsoft should get on those typewriters too. Nokia has also been very silent, I'd love to see them say publicly Symbian handsets with AGPS do no location caching whatsoever.

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By the numbers of thumbs down on all posts....

....we can see how many fanbois are around. I cannto believe someone can still lick Steve's balls after so many issues with Apple products. Whoever believes Applle does no evil should have his brain checked for damage.

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Silver badge

Or it could be...

... that childish, foul-mouthed attacks with only the most tenuous link to the story attract down votes regardless of your opinion about the company involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Fanboi statistics

It also means the Android fanbois (let's be honest they're the only Apple haters) are not around.

I suspect they're all quietly licking their wounds now that it came to light their platform is reporting their location every 2 hours back to Google's mothership.

First honeycomb not being open source, now this.. any basis for moral superiority smugness is quickly eroding.

But then again it only ever existed in the Mountain View's chocolate factory imaginary land.

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IT Angle

What issues?

Come on, serious, significant list supported by exact references and not conspiracy-theory, Apple-phobic bigots. You can send the response from your Android (so long as it does not lose the connection), your Windows 7 or the wonderful system you designed and wrote yourself.

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Flame

Whats the fuss about?

Dont you commentards know that this is the Jesus phone we are talking about?

Everything St. Jobs says is gospel and righteous.

So let it be now and get on with your lives. Or someone come up with an app. that erases this .db file and make it available free on the net for anyone who cares to delete this privacy invasion.

Whilst at it, can someone comment why no one is complaining about IPaddresses being given to all electronic devices, made specifically "to identify the computer/Electronic device" for ANY & ALL net activity?

Flames welcome.

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Joke

Apple... next thing you know...

... they'll be promising us cake with the next iPhone and we all know where that leads.

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Jobs Halo

I don't get it

What's all the fuss about? Even if they could find out where you are, who cares, really? I certainly don't. Does it really matter or is it just you don't like Apple and/or iPhones so you must have a dig at every thing they do, even if it is innocent and you just didn't get it?

Whether you like it or not Apple and the iPhone have changed tech for the better, even if you don't use them whatever you do use will have been inspired by them in some way.

I have an Iphone 4, works great for me ta, then again so did the htc hero that it succeeded.

My guess is a load of thumbs-down and a couple of thumbs-up....

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Big Brother

but what about...

all the lovely data your cellco stores (and will give to the fuzz when asked)

yep, the start and end cell sites for every call, text and data session logged, indexed and kept for ~2 years (plus who you called etc)

just be thankful logging HLR data is too expensive/a right pain in the arse to do

your mobileco having tracking data for phones that are on and not just when calls happen and having to keep it fox x years to comply with data retention laws

mines the one with the turned off phone in the pocket

/owen

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Dead Vulture

Save it for the tabloids

Terrible article - Apple has already been forced to go out of its way to make a statement on this completely pointless scare-mongering, and now even the explanation is the subject of further obfuscation.

The basic allegation was that Apple was tracking people (via iThings) - so Apple have unambiguously stated: "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so." Is that not clear enough? Do you really think Apple would really expose themselves to the legal action that would result from telling lies in such clear terms?

Why do you keep flogging this dead horse? Are you that desperate for news items, or are you trying to divert attention from the embarrassing fact that it was never an issue anyway? There are already enough sources of gossipy, ill-informed rubbish without The Register joining in.

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Boffin

Fly in the ointment - timestamps

I can actually buy the story - AGPS works much better if the phone already knows roughly where you are and can do so without a net connection. But... Why on earth does each location need a timestamp on it? If it were missing that, it would be less of a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Missing one thing

Obviously the timestamp is to expire data, just like any other cache.

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Anonymous Coward

They predictions, so the timestamp is when you are going to arrive

The Jesus phone even tells you where you are going and when. Its for the iBrain app.

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Boffin

Timestamp

Probably because the timestamp is a unique identifier for the piece of data and the location info is not.

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Re: Obviously the timestamp is to expire data, just like any other cache.

Oh, that'll be like cookies expiring in 2038 then...

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Anonymous Coward

Yes Dan

but don't worry by 2038 all the idiots will have voted google into power, all your posts will belong to them and real tracking (exclusive to Google of course) will be the law.

But Google will then be able offer a service which recommends which pair of socks you should wear, for free. So it's all good.

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Coat

They knows where I am!

Who would have believed it? Fuck me! I want a bottle opener and lighter on it next - I just love combo devices...

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Weirdo

@Magnus_Pym, and that's fine, if people want to broadcast their location to all and sundry that is their right. But it is everyone else's right to NOT do this.

Surprise surprise, Apple is lying. Look what StelMG says, he extracted the DB, and plotted the data -- result? Accurate location by date and time (with a few outliers.) At the very least, Apple is obfuscating the issue by saying "Oh, it's not YOUR location, it's CELL SITE location (even though they are almost one and the same for the typical urban user)."

I wonder what people would think if they saw my supposed location based on cell site location? The three sites i usually camp on (several miles apart, we don't have microcells on every street corner around here) are (according to OpensignalMaps) based in a park, a second park, or a third park, so I guess I'd appear to be some kind of weirdo that hangs out in parks all day and night 8-).

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@it's not YOUR location, it's CELL SITE location

AND it's also wifi access points as found and plotted by various companies (inc google streetview) using PUBLIC wifi beacon data.

If I look at a 1st gen ipod touch (NO GPS and NO GPRS or 3G), turn on "location services" and "wifi" and look at Google Maps and WOW .. it pin-points me to a few feet ... only of course it does not actual track ME its making a best guess at where I might be based on what the wireless AP beacons it can see nearby .. I like that, its clever. Of course if I go further in to the countryside it has no real idea where I am and cannot show me its best guess because there is no wifi AP I can download the google maps through.

Now if the ipod touch uploaded these results to Apple and tied it to a serial number or other device ID then I would agree that "Apple are tracking me!!" .. sorry but I see no proof of that.

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WTF?

You don't need to store ID data in a file

Any cell phone can be interrogated for it's unique identifier, along with other criteria - it need not be stored anywhere else.

The fact that so much data is accumulated makes it suspicious. Google has strict limitations on the data it accumulates which makes it more believable that the data is being used for trouble shooting.

Even though Apple has many more communication failures, and probably needs more data, it doesn't excuse them collecting 365 days worth of information.

Reverse triangulation, i.e. mobile location using cell info, is far less accurate than cell data used to locate a handset especially now there is sophisticated software to d the job in real time, it makes the Apple database even more suspicious.

Even though I disagree with Apples lock-down philosophy, I am also against ANY accumulation of user data for any purpose unless it is stipulated clearly, in writing, and with user control of it's transmission.

That is why I do not carry a smartphone and until these aspects are governed I will not buy a smartphone. I use a satellite telephone and I understand the data that can be deduced from my communications and I accept these as a limitation. I can also govern my use of the satellite handset in order to minimise useful data.

People who claim they do not worry about being tracked are naive: the trust in governments and their agencies are minimal these days and likewise with law enforcement so minimising collected data frustrates any attempt at 'framing' someone.

I sued a Canadian police authority and in the process I subpoenaed their 'intelligence' files and spent 4 days dragging through the accumulated data. I was amazed at what inferences they deduced from certain data. At one time I carried a chemical heat conductive paste - the white goo that you see on properly installed semiconductors such as processors - it is poisonous. I also carried a powdered form, that looked like talc. It was intended to pack around high powered semiconductor RF amplifiers to carry away the heat.

According to the police 'intelligence' it surmised that I had it so I could poison an air-conditioning duct work system to poison people. To achieve this would require kilograms of the material whereas I only carried about 300 grams. Had they contacted my employer they could have explained my need to carry this stuff which was clearly labelled along with remedial treatment should exposure occur. Prospective poisoners would not do this, I suspect.

Whenever I renew my passport I remove all visa inserts because where I have been is really my business and few others need know. Having passport legally issued to me by three countries also assists me in maintaining my privacy.

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Joke

Title

I am sympathetic to the worries of the affair having/bank robbing/secret agents that have had their relationship/freedom/lives put at risk. That said, I don't go anywhere interesting enough to worry about the various mobile operating systems tracking my movements.

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Commentard sheep

And after the pissing and moaning they'll all still use their smartphones, Facebook, ....

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iAd

I have been looking into that quite a bit lately and was a bit surprised. iAd does transfer your location but not that is it you who's there, so to say. The iPhone generates twice a day a random ID and this ID is used for iAd. This is enough to get the right ad for the right place to the right device, but not enough to find out what device it is and what user it is (because the ID is random) and even this anonymous "you" can't be tracked over time, because the ID changes to another random ID every 12 hours. Tell me what you want, I think this is quite a reasonable implementation. I don't trust them, but with this implementation I don't need to trust them to begin with. As it should be.

Now, Google's AdMob doesn't bother with such gay randomness and manly tags the location data it sends to the mothership (and the advertisers) with both the Unique Device ID of your phone and your Carrier User ID. Which both never change. To be happy with this you need to trust Google and its partners really deeply.

Apple may be greedy and there're bugs and whatever, but where they implement their stuff in a way that I do not need to trust them I'm happy with it.

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