April 21st, 2011
An accidentally discovered file on the Apple iPhone, has put privacy advocates in a tither, as it tracks the users location and then saves itself to the phone and the users computer once synced.
While the reason this data file exists probably has more to do with potential software improvements and advertising, than with government snooping. It does make users snap out of their slumber, even if only for a moment or two, and see how wide open our lives have become in this technical age.
I tested the data file myself, and discovered that the locations provided were in the general vicinity of my location, but it was not what I would call accurate, not even close...
From examining this data file, it seems that the phone is logging the users movements via cell tower triangulation, and not as you would expect via the more accurate GPS navigation?
But don't take my word for it, if you have an iPhone and a Mac and you wish to test the tracking file yourself, you can download an open source application Here, which does a fine job of reading the data.
As we all become more and more attached to our personal communication devices, and begin to feel literally naked without them, we all know that feeling during our drive to work when we realize the phone is on the kitchen table and not in our pockets. The mobile phone has become the perfect bug, and one that we are not only aware of, but cannot bare to be without.
While the average phone user is probably not too concerned by this "new" privacy revelation, it should be noted that all Cell/Mobile phones can be used to track movements.
Publicly this has been done on many occasions by law enforcement, using cell tower triangulation to locate a missing person or suspect at large.
The phone does not need to be in use for this to work, only removing the battery will disable this feature. Although this might not work for all phones, as there maybe an alternate power source build into the phone, used specifically to "ping" the cell tower.
Another far more disturbing feature of the mobile phone is the remote control of its camera and microphone. While this "feature" is something that is technically possible on all phones, it's also something that would only be put into use for extremely specific reasons.
But for some, just the thought that your phone could be used to covertly take photographs and or video, while recording conversations would be reason enough to leave it at home during certain activities. For the rest of us, well its quite simply not on our radar of things to be concerned about.
At least that's what I keep telling myself...