“Privacy watchdogs are demanding answers from Apple Inc. about why iPhones and iPads are secretly collecting location data on users — records that cellular service providers routinely keep but require a court order to disgorge,” Jordan Robertson reports for The Associated Press.

“Much of the concern about the iPhone and iPad tracking stems from the fact the computers are logging users’ physical coordinates without users knowing it — and that that information is then stored in an unencrypted form that would be easy for a hacker or a suspicious spouse or a law enforcement officer to find without a warrant,” Robertson reports. “Researchers emphasize that there’s no evidence that Apple itself has access to this data. The data apparently stays on the device itself, and [on the] computers [upon which] the data is backed up.”

Robertson reports, “The issue has prompted several members of Congress to write letters to Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., to answer questions about the practice. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said it raises ‘serious privacy concerns,’ especially for children using the devices, since ‘anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken — over the past months or even a year.'”

Robertson reports, “Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., questioned whether the practice may be illegal under a federal law governing the use of location information for commercial purposes, if consumers weren’t properly informed. ‘Apple needs to safeguard the personal location information of its users to ensure that an iPhone doesn’t become an iTrack,’ he said in a statement. ‘Collecting, storing and disclosing a consumer’s location for commercial purposes without their express permission is unacceptable and would violate current law.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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