In what is a potentially disturbing development that will surely be blown way out of proportion, several researchers at O’Reilly have discovered a somewhat troubling feature of the iPhone and 3G iPads running Apple’s iOS 4. In a blog post and video, the site details that Apple is storing GPS coordinates of cellular iOS devices locally (as in on the device) and in an unencrypted and unprotected form.
“Ever since iOS 4 arrived, your device has been storing a long list of locations and time stamps,” say the researchers. “We’re not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it’s clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations.” The researchers go on to state that along with a list of timestamped GPS coordinates, the file also contains a list of Wi-Fi access points that the device has been in range of.
“Anybody with access to this file knows where you’ve been over the last year, since iOS 4 was released,” they continue. The file in question, which is called “consolidated.db”, is in the backup file created when syncing the cellular iOS device with iTunes, and on the iOS device itself. “Why this data is stored and how Apple intends to use it — or not — are important questions that need to be explored,” they conclude.
Check out the video made by the gang at O’Reilly after the break. I wonder how Apple will respond to this? I can guess. They won’t.
Does this bother you or is it something you don’t worry about? Sound off in the comments!