April 22, 2011 / Leave a Comment
I was asked today by a friend about the recent revelation that Apple is storing location data about when and where you are and what I thought about this or knew about it.
I will be the first to say that recording such data is creepy, but not malicious. Everyday countless amounts of data is being collected about you. Your ISP and employer are likely recording every website you visit. Every email and text message you have ever sent is stored somewhere and likely in multiple places. You enter your rewards card number at the grocery store and it records everything you just purchased. And when visiting a website on the internet every action you take is being stored, tracked and analyzed.
We no longer live in world where privacy fully exists. We gave that up for convenience. To make shopping, surfing the web and talking on our phones easier and better. So Apple is storing your location data, well guess what, so is Google, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and everyone else. For the most part this data is being collected to improve their location services and mapping software, and to improve service quality in areas that many people drop calls or get no internet service. And I’m sure there is the analytics side where they want to identify where people are using their phones more, Basketball games or Baseball games? All of that data is going to improve your experience, and improve their ability to provide new features and market new products to you.
So yes, it’s creepy, but its not 1984. Apple wants your money, not your life.
UPDATE: Apple has now disclosed the actual purpose of the location file, which is actually not directly your location, but rather the location of wifi hotspots and cell towers that it uses to determine your location in Google Maps and in applications, but not your specific location. It admits its flawed in that it stores too much data, non-encrypted and continues to do so even when location services are off (all to be fixed in the next iOS release). They also admit to anonymously uploading the data with traffic information to build a mapping solution to be released later.