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Privacy, do you have it?
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Lasairfiona



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 9702
Location: I have to be somewhere? ::runs around frantically::

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:15 am    Post subject: Privacy, do you have it? Reply with quote

In the spirit of having more threads that are a tad more specific, her is an article about Apple knowing too much about you (surprise surprise).

The Guardian wrote:

iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010.

"Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been," said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. "Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," said Warden. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this."

Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: "This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone's life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage."

Warden and Allan point out that the file is moved onto new devices when an old one is replaced: "Apple might have new features in mind that require a history of your location, but that's our specualtion. The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn't accidental." But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself.

Although mobile networks already record phones' locations, it is only available to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act. Standard phones do not record location data.

MPs in 2009 criticised the search engine giant Google for its "Latitude" system, which allowed people to enable their mobile to give out details of their location to trusted contacts. At the time MPs said that Latitude "could substantially endanger user privacy", but Google pointed out that users had to specifically choose to make their data available.

The iPhone system, by contrast, appears to record the data whether or not the user agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled.

Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining. The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner's computer.

If someone were to steal an iPhone and "jailbreak" it, giving them direct access to the files it contains, they could extract the location database directly. Alternatively, anyone with direct access to a user's computer could run the application and see a visualisation of their movements. Encrypting data on the computer is one way to protect against it, though that still leaves the file on the phone.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the security company Sophos, said: "If the data isn't required for anything, then it shouldn't store the location. And it doesn't need to keep an archive on your machine of where you've been." He suggested that Apple might be hoping that it would yield data for future mobile advertising targeted by location, although he added: "I tend to subscribe to cockup rather than conspiracy on things like this – I don't think Apple is really trying to monitor where users are."

The location file came to light when Warden and Allan were looking for a source of mobile data. "We'd been discussing doing a visualisation of mobile data, and while Alasdair was researching into what was available, he discovered this file. At first we weren't sure how much data was there, but after we dug further and visualised the extracted data, it became clear that there was a scary amount of detail on our movements," Warden said.

They have blogged about their discovery at O'Reilly's Radar site, noting that "why this data is stored and how Apple intends to use it — or not — are important questions that need to be explored."

The pair of data scientists have collaborated on a number of data visualisations, including a map of radiation levels in Japan for The Guardian. They are developing a Data Science Toolkit for dealing with location data.

Davies said that the discovery of the file indicated that Apple had failed to take users' privacy seriously.

Apple can legitimately claim that it has permission to collect the data: near the end of the 15,200-word terms and conditions for its iTunes program, used to synchronise with iPhones, iPods and iPads, is an 86-word paragraph about "location-based services".

It says that "Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services."

Map of Europe and chart of the actual data in the full article.

Facebook is another big problem - remember the ads that used your friend's faces? Well someone made up a scorecard related to privacy. Results - depressing.
A lot of links in the article so it is worth reading on the actual site.


PCWorld wrote:

Who’s Screwing You Over on Privacy Issues? Pretty Much Everybody
Dropbox--flamed this week for revealing that it will hand over your stored files to the feds if requested--is not alone in its willingness to throw users' privacy under the proverbial bus.

Nor is Apple, under the gun today after a revelation by O'Reilly Radar that 3G iPads and iPhones keep track of users' locations in unencrypted files.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently released its annual Privacy and Protection Report Card, rating the largest online players' performance in four categories:

Telling users about data demands
Being transparent about government requests for information
Fighting for user privacy in the courts
Advocating for privacy before Congress

EFF asks the provocative question, "When the government comes knocking, who has your back?" The discouraging but unsurprising answer appears to be, "You better have your own," because almost everybody failed.

As ZDNet's Violet Blue said, "They've either got your back in a pinch, or they'll sing like yellow canaries when the chips are down and sacrifice you without a second glance."

How the Big Boys Did
Among the tech firms whose performance on privacy issues can best be described as "not terrible:" Google (two stars plus two half-stars), Amazon (two stars) and Twitter (one star and two half-stars).

Google was the only surveyed company to rate something in all four categories, giving it a solid grade of C. Google got props from the EFF for citing user privacy as it pushed back in court against a request for search records, and for regular reporting about how and when they provide data to governments around the world.

Amazon and Twitter received props for their handling of requests for individuals' data, and Yahoo earned a star for resisting subpoenas of a user's email records.

Microsoft, Facebook and AT&T earned one star each for lobbying Congress on privacy concerns.

Coming up completely empty: Apple, Comcast, MySpace, Skype, and Verizon.

Privacy-minded users have already kicked themselves off Facebook and sworn off FourSquare and cloud-based anything. They won't get much additional benefit from a privacy bill rolling out on Capitol Hill.

The Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights, introduced in the Senate last week by strange bedfellows John McCain and John Kerry, got a lukewarm review from EFF's Rainey Reitman: "The bill's most glaring defect is its emphasis on regulation of information use and sharing, rather than on the collection of data in the first place. For example, the bill would allow a user to opt out of third-party ad targeting based on tracking--but not third-party tracking."

Moreover, Reitman adds, a loophole in the legislation allows sites like Facebook to step neatly around privacy protections: "A user would surrender any right to opt out of being tracked by Facebook or Google simply by having an account with them."

You are warned...

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Sam



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if I had gone iPhone instead of android, i would totally have immediately hacked my phone to get at the location/timestamp data and made a heat map of my movements overlaid on google maps, solely for my own curiosity.

since I didn't have an iPhone, I suppose i'll just have to suffice with, say, having a phone that isn't stalking me because its maker has a controlling and paternalistic idiot attitude towards its customers.

Good consolation prize, i think ~~
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CTrees



Joined: 21 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And see, here I thought you'd be talking about things like this (basically, Somali pirates have too many captured ships in inventory, so they're cutting their (ransom) prices to increase inventory turn-over. Which is surprisingly... retail).

Also, Android FTW.
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Dogen



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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Location: Bellingham, WA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CTrees wrote:
And see, here I thought you'd be talking about things like this (basically, Somali pirates have too many captured ships in inventory, so they're cutting their (ransom) prices to increase inventory turn-over. Which is surprisingly... retail).

Also, Android FTW.

I like how that reads like a press release. "Somali pirates said on Sunday they would lower some of their ransom demands to get a faster turnover of ships they hijack in the Indian Ocean." Is there a Somali pirate spokesperson? Do they know that the cost of labor - food and water and what not - is the largest hit on the PNL? Perhaps to maintain margins they should layoff some of their pirates until the economy picks up and boat traffic increases to meet hijacking production quotas.
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CTrees



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just now, just now, realized that I misread the title of this thread, multiple times, as "Piracy, do you have it?" So, that article (which totally does sound like a used car lot ad) is a little bit non-sequitir, here.

I blame China.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every day I feel better about not having an Apple product, or Facebooking.
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Guest



Joined: 15 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CTrees wrote:
I just now, just now, realized that I misread the title of this thread, multiple times, as "Piracy, do you have it?" So, that article (which totally does sound like a used car lot ad) is a little bit non-sequitir, here.

I blame China.


http://www.weebls-stuff.com/songs/Somalia/
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mouse



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

and people laughed at my primitive 10-pad phone! at least it is too stupid to be plotting against me!
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Sam



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"We were young. We were on top of the world. We forgot skynet came online that day."
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Arc Tempest



Joined: 28 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought my phone six years years ago for twenty dollars.

It makes calls.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine can call AND send/receive text messages!
I only use it to make calls.
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nathan



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a smartphone, but I don't communicate with it. It just gives me something to do while I wait for things, so I don't have to take up smoking.
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Eiden



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mouse wrote:
and people laughed at my primitive 10-pad phone! at least it is too stupid to be plotting against me!


Smartphone is a one-way street. First you don't own one and don't think you need one. Then you get one and understand why you can't live without.

I, for one, welcome my new robot cellphone overlords.
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Sam



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then, one day, you pull it out while you're on the john, and then you're just trapped one level deeper.
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Lasairfiona



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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Location: I have to be somewhere? ::runs around frantically::

PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A smartphone has turned me into the annoying, looking up all tiny conversation conflicts, random questions, and random topics tangentially related to what we were talking about (red pandas, go!).

I have no problem with this. Isn't looking things up what smartphone are for??? Apparently it irritates other people but I think it is just what we should do with smart phones.

I LIKE WHO I AM!!!

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