Researchers announced last week that they found what look like secret files on the iPhone that track user location and store it on the device, without the permission of the device owner. Apple has been collecting it in iOS products that carry a 3G antenna for nearly a year now to help create a crowd-sourced database that's able to help speed up location positioning.
Pete Warden, a writer, and Alasdair Allan, a senior research fellow in astronomy at the University of Exeter, discovered the log file and created a tool that lets users see a visualization of that data. Last week they said there was no evidence of that information being sent to Apple or anyone else, which Apple has now said it uses to build a large, anonymized database. That data was found to be unencrypted, giving anyone with access to your phone or computer where backups may be stored a way to grab the data.
A week later, Apple broke its silence to explicitly say that this data is not for the purposes of tracking where people are. Instead it's to help the company's devices zero in on their location using information from part of a larger database. Furthermore, Apple said a future software update would cut down the time this data was stored on the phone, and that it would be encrypted.
To help users understand more about the data that's being collected, what the risks are, and what they can do about it, CNET has put together this FAQ, which has been updated several times since it first published on April 20. You can also view Apple's response to the matter here, which was posted April 27. … Read more