Every Step You Take, Every Move You Make, Your iPhone Is Watching You (the 3G iPad Too)

If you’re concerned with privacy and own an iPhone or iPad 3G, you should probably keep a closer eye on those devices than normal. Alasdair Allen at O’Reilly Radar is reporting that a hidden file in iOS 4 is regularly recording and storing the location of devices. The data in the hidden file follows users across backups, device migrations and is stored in an unencrypted file.

In iTunes, you can choose to encrypt your backup data under the Options menu, but there are much larger questions on why Apple is storing this in the first place. To get the same information from cell phone companies would require a court order, but for any users who didn’t know or didn’t think to turn on encryption – we’re guessing that’s actually a fairly large amount – it now only requires leaving your phone or a machine where you’ve synced your phone unattended around the wrong person for a period of time.

If you’re cheating on a tech savvy partner, now’s the time to worry.

Aside from that, Allen notes that chances are there are a limited number of people who would have access to this file, but the ease of discovery will still be troubling for some; as will the fact that there’s no documented explanation for why Apple’s devices collect and store the information seemingly forever.

Though it hasn’t slowed anything down, this isn’t the first time concerns over Apple’s unencrypted data storage and transmission around iOS 4 have arisen. In June, a former employee brought up the issue of the amount of data being collected in the background and the lack of privacy.


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