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Dublin: 20°C Sunday 13 June 2021

Smile! Your iPhone's watching you...

Two data scientists have uncovered a secret tracking application hidden inside your iPhone.

The movements of a TheJournal.ie staff member as tracked by his iPhone
The movements of a TheJournal.ie staff member as tracked by his iPhone
Image: Gavan Reilly

YOUR iPHONE or 3G iPad is secretly recording all of your movements – and storing them on a secret file hidden within the phone.

Technology security experts claim that the details of the tracking – including the latitude and longtitude of the phone’s recorded co-ordinates, and a timestamp –  is then copied to the owner’s computer, when the phone or iPad are synchronised.

The recording of data only seems to have started with the iOS4 upgrade, the Guardian newspaper reports.

There’s no suggestion that the information is being stored on databases by Apple, the data scientists who uncovered the file – and presented their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francsico yesterday – have said.

However, one of the scientists, Pete Warden, points out the obvious security concerns:

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 [...] Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been.

Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled, but the two scientists – Warden and his colleague Alasdair Allen – believes it might “have new features in mind that require a history of your location.”

Users cannot opt out of having their data stored – unless, of course, they buy a different phone.

Read more about the iPhone Tracker >

Find out how to examine the data stored in your phone >

Poll: iPhone surveillance. Do you care? >

About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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