Researchers debate iPhone tracking, as a jailbreak solution appears

The blogosphere blew up this week with the discovery by two scientists that Apple's iPhone was tracking users' movements and storing the Global Positioning System-like information in an unprotected file. After researchers presented their findings April 20, it was determined that the location tracking isn't harmless, but its accuracy seems to depend on on an area's cell phone reception, reports the Register.

"Apple is not storing the device's location, it's storing the location of the towers that the device is communicating with," blogger and Web developer Will Clarke told the Register. Some other researchers disagreed with that conclusion.

It was also noted that the time intervals that the locations were logged were inconsistent, leaving days without database updates, the article states. Despite the inaccuracies, the scientists said that the file contains a "scary amount of detail of our movements." They were able to confirm locations down to the neighborhood level, the article said.

Consumers can be proactive in not having their information taken and stored on the infamous consolidated.db file: a jailbreak antidote has already been revealed.

Jailbroken iDevice owners can install an application that will lock up their iPhones in such a way as to block that GPS information from being stored and therefore being taken, reports Foxbusiness.com.

Jailbreak apps are made by third parties and are not endorsed by Apple.

While most cell phone companies store the longitude and latitude information of its users, that data is usually encrypted and protected behind a firewall, according to ReadWriteWeb. The article adds that it usually requires a court order for others to be able to access it.

 

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Reader Comments

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 Fred Clouse

I've been able to keep track of my iPhone for quite some time now with stealth tracking software called Mobile Spy.

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 Don

As someone who has, in the course of my job, participated in hundreds of court authorized search warrants, the last paragraph is not quite correct. Wireless service providers do store, as part of their normal business practices, the tower and sector information that the cell phone used. Significantly different than the actual lat/lon of the phone.

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