Here’s Lea Michelle from GLEE this morning in NYC holding her iphone which (even if it’s turned off) can store the data of her location.
According to the Toronto Star:
The latest disclosure about your smartphone’s ability to keep tabs on you: It collects and stores location data even when that option is turned off.
After turning off location services on an iPhone 4, the Journal testers recorded data then moved the phone to new locations.
“Over the span of several hours as the phone was moved, it continued to collect location data from new places,” the newspaper reported.
The data weren’t always accurate, despite recording latitude and longitude and time stamps, the newspaper said.
And that, says mapping expert Peter Batty, is the most important point.
“Everybody knows that phones are aware of your location and there are lots of useful things you can do with that,” Batty told the Star.
“It turns out it’s not tracking you as accurately. It is recording the location of cell towers you’ve been close to.”
Batty mapped his own data in downtown Denver, where he lives. The map put him in Coors Field several times although he’s never been there. But the baseball stadium does have the largest, most active, cell towers in the area to deal with the crush of cellphone users at games.
Similarly, the data tracked him to Manhattan but not more accurately than that.
Other tracking put him near a village in England his visited, but not in the village.
“And someone would only know this level of data if they broke into your computer. If they did that, they would also have access to your address book and calendar and email, which would provide a lot more personal information.”
Batty conducted his own research after two British scientists last week revealed for the first time that the iPhone 4 and iPad 3G logged and kept each owner’s location data for many months.
Of the revelation the tracking continues even with location data disabled, Batty said that just makes sense. “Cellphones have been talking to cellphone towers as long as they have existed.”
Other researchers disclosed on the weekend that Google’s Android was also tracking each owner, although for less time.
“All location sharing on the Android is opt-in by the user,” Google said on Friday in its defence.
“Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user.”
Apple, meanwhile, has not responded to requests for a comment about the logging of location data by the iPhone 4 and iPad 3G.
However, a corporate response last year to two U.S. congressmen pointed out Apple’s policy:
“By using any location-based services on your iPhone, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data to provide such products and services.”
Batty, whose company devises indoor tracking systems that follow components through large manufacturing systems, acknowledged that “different people have different levels of what they want to share.”
But he argued smartphone makers “are storing the data for legitimate reasons of navigation, and it’s just stored on your private computer.”