Expert: iPhone tracking story is nothing new and Apple is not collecting the data

Yesterday, “two researchers for O’Reilly media published an article claiming discovery of a hidden tracking system on the iOS 4 operating system,” Alex Levinson blogs. “Using simple techniques, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden extracted data off of an iOS version 4 device and wrote an open source software utility to effectively graph this data onto a map. As a fellow researcher, I champion their creativity and their development.”

Levinson writes, “As an expert in this field [Lead Engineer for Katana Forensics], I have three points of argument to raise.”

1) Apple is not collecting this data.
2) This hidden file is neither new nor secret, it’s just moved
3) This “discovery” was published months ago

Levinson writes, “I have no problem with what Mr. Warden and Mr. Allan have created or presented on, but I do take issue with them making erroneous claims and not citing previously published work. I’m all for creative development and research, as long as it’s honest.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Attribution: Cult of Mac via @Scobleizer. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jax44” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
‘untrackerd’ jailbreak utility blocks iOS from storing recorded iPhone location data – April 21, 2011
Apple’s iPhone tracks everywhere you go; stores the info in secret file on the device – April 20, 2011


    1. Oh, the media knows. All the blather mouthed talking heads on all the channels are in self-important indignation about this as of this morning.

      The day is young; hopefully something else will come along and distract them. Maybe a shiny mirror and some colorful feathers and yarn.

      Mean while the stock is still up.

  1. By the way, the news article is wrong – the researchers didn’t get the file off the iPhone, it came from the backup on the host computer with iTunes. Getting it off the phone would have required defeating its security.

    This is such a non-story….

    1. lol. if this is a Maps app file.. it would be great.

      Apple should release a statement, but from what i have seen/read about the “issue” i’m not worried. its not transferred anywhere as far as anyone can tell.
      Looks like a history file like a web browser.

      Doesn’t handheld GPS or built in car GPS, do the same thing?
      I’m sure i could go through my old Garmin GPS files that back up on my computer when its sync’d and probably find the same/similar stuff.

  2. … Problem with is if you turn out to be some kind of serial killer, and the law knows where to look, they could use this against you.. or could they?? doesnt matter..

    also, lets say that that your having an affair, and your spouse restores a backup of your iphone to their phone, he/she can hire these 2 experts to hack into it and confirm or not, the true whereabouts of said sinner!


    really.. why the *ck would I care that there is some file like this? I would be more surprised if there wasn’t one?

  3. Alex Levinson sounds like he’s trying to gain exposure himself by jumping in on the hype.

    All three of his points, were mentioned on Pete Warden’s blog.

    The data isn’t collected.

    It’s not new.

    And it was perviously reported and ignored (linking to the original report).

  4. Bravos to Levinson for demystifying the topic and exposing the bogus claims by the two so-called researchers. As usual, Apple haters, bashers, and media whores are out in force wailing accusations.

    Al franken, who couldn’t resist some cheap publicity, released a letter demanding an explanation from Jobs yesterday. Could someone please direct the comedian wannabe to Levinson’s website. What a bunch of douche bags.

  5. 2:12pm ET, and I just heard Erin Burnett, who hates Apple, of CNBC just say they are going to talk next about Apple tracking your “each..and..every..move!”. Yes, she said it like that. She hates Apple with a passion and whenever she gets to interview someone about Apple she has to ask if Apple is a “bubble stock”.

    1. Thank you, Rodney, for your highly insightful comment. It really extends my knowledge and understanding with a rant like that.


      Truth be told, this hysteria is completely overblown. Would Apple be so stupid as to put a file like this on a phone in an unencrypted form in an easily found location were it not to have a legitimate purpose, such as the Find My iPhone function?

      Instead, some idiot know-it-alls think they discovered something new, which they did not, and then made an immediate assumption that the only reason for the file’s existence is the spy on you. This is the equivalent of assuming that all space aliens are evil and want to eat your family for lunch. The truth, I think we will find, is far more innocuous.

      But that never stopped political whores like Chuck Schumer or Al Franken from getting TV news time. It’s been said the the most dangerous place on Earth is the distance between Chuck Schumer and the lens of a news TV camera, and I’m afraid I have to add Senator Franken to this description as well.

      Ready. Fire. Aim.

      I’ll add you to the description above, Rodney.

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