iPhone as Big Brother?

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

A recent article in the Guardian announced that researchers found a hidden file in the iPhone that keeps track of your exact coordination points at all times without user consent. The data is then saved to your computer when you synch your iPhone with your laptop.

Here is a photograph of an iPhone user’s tracked locations in South England:

iphone-data-map

The article explains:
“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.

This discovery has clear implications for the protection of our privacy. In what ways do you think Apple should be held liable? Can they be sued? What is the legality of this issue? What are the ethical implications of this?

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