Researcher Says iPhone Location Data Has Already Been Used By Law Enforcement

Just yesterday, the revelation that the iPhone and iPad 3G are constantly tracking your location and storing that data in an unencrypted hidden file spread throughout the media.

As we noted, while there’s nothing that suggests Apple is actually monitoring or doing anything with the data, when your phone or a computer you’ve recently synced it with is out of sight tech savvy people could gain access to the information without your permission. According to forensic computing researcher Alex Levinson, law enforcement are some of those people and they’ve been using consolidated.db to find people.

Even better, they’ve been using it since before iOS 4 when the file was called h-cells.plist.

“Through my work with various law enforcement agencies, we’ve used h-cells.plist on devices older than iOS 4 to harvest geolocational evidence from iOS devices,” Levinson writes on his blog. {via GigaOm} Levinson declined to elaborate on exactly how the data was used, and the bulk of the post is raising the point that he published similar information a few months ago.

Given that the tools to find this information are now a click away and that the file – hidden or not – is receiving so much publicity – new discover or not, we’ll say again that even if law enforcement isn’t looking for information on you someone else may be.

Users who have a jailbroken iPhone or iPad can download an app called untrackerd here. It will run in the background and constantly clear location data. iPhone/iPad 3G users who aren’t on a jailbroken device? Keep an eye on that. Apple may not be watching, but other people could be.


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