Newsflash: In the U.S. your cellphone has been tracking you for nearly a decade; mandated by FCC in 2001

“The controversy generated as a result of computer researchers discovering a hidden file that allows Apple to track the location of iPhone and iPad users has been treated as a shocking revelation by the media, and yet since October 2001, the FCC has mandated that all wireless carriers track the location of their users down to within 50 feet,” Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones report for Prison Planet.

“Indeed, as much as a year ago Apple admitted to the fact that it ‘intermittently’ collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours, according to a letter the company sent to U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas),” reports the WSJ,” Watson and Jones report. “Google’s HTC Android phones [sic] collect location data every few minutes and transmit that information directly to Google several times an hour, including the unique phone identifier, meaning that Google can keep tabs on the movement of a known individual almost constantly. Since people now ubiquitously carry their cellphones everywhere they go, this is akin to having a tracking microchip implanted in your forehead.”

Watson and Jones report, “However, far from being a recent phenomenon, as the media would have us believe, tracking of individuals via their cellphones has been going on for almost ten years at least. Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC mandated that by October 1, 2001 a quarter of all new cellphones be equipped with GPS functionality that would allow authorities to track the location of users. By the end of 2002, this became a mandatory requirement of all new cellphones.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ron G.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
U.S. Senate Democrat Franken to hold mobile privacy hearing; Apple, Google summoned – April 26, 2011
Illinois Attorney General Madigan requests meeting with Apple, Google – April 25, 2011
Apple sued for privacy invasion, computer fraud over iOS location data collection, storage – April 25, 2011
Steve Jobs on iOS location tracking: We don’t track anyone, but Droid does – April 25, 2011
Apple iPhone collects location info even when location services are turned off by user – April 25, 2011
Android phones regularly transmit location data to Google ‘at least several times an hour’ – April 22, 2011
House Democrat questions legality of Apple’s iPhone, iPad location tracking – April 21, 2011
Apple’s iOS location tracking file caused by a bit of unfinished code? – April 21, 2011
U.S. Senator Al Franken demands answers from Apple’s Steve Jobs over iPhone tracking – April 21, 2011
Expert: iPhone tracking story is nothing new and Apple is not collecting the data – April 21, 2011
‘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

66 Comments

    1. This is why I pity americans. You have leaders who know nothing. Did they even go to school? If I were you, I would storm into his office and DEMAND to see his diploma, then look it over for that trademark crest showing it was really a free prize that came with his box of CrackerJack popcorn as a child 200 years ago.

      1. Actually rene, I pity we American too. Our Federal government is so huge, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Agencies such as the FCC are populated by non-elected federal employees writing a shitload of regulations. Elected officials, many new every couple of years, have no understanding of reams of regulations that their laws conflict with every day. It is a pity, and why many of us want to see a more limited Federal government, reduced in size. It is truly unmanageable.

        1. So far we know what the FCC required, not the law that caused them to adopt the rule. I suspect it had to do with EMS, Fire and Police being able to respond to 911 calls from cell phones. I know a response to my billing address would not be too helpful.

          I do agree with your basic concern, but occasionally our Government does act in a rational way.

          1. … paranoid, fearful, Bush years. Paranoid types don’t do things because of the possible public good that might accrue. Well, they think winning against the delusion they are battling would be a “public good”, except the price is way too high in most cases. In the view of most Progressives. Because they are not paranoid. That may be why they disagree so deeply.

        2. You act as if government employees are out to get you, Spark. It simply is not true. You unfairly lambast many good, hardworking individuals who are doing their best to serve their country. The problem starts with the elected officials – they control the funding and they also control the creation of agencies and define their roles/responsibilities.

          You are right about one thing, at least. Our government is huge and everyone has had a part in making it that way – forever asking for more services (including national defense) while refusing to pay for those services. That is why I find the disdain that the GOP and Tea Party (if you can separate the two) express regarding taxes. Pay as you go should be the conservative mantra. Instead, tax cuts that increased the deficit were implemented during the Bush administration while also massively increasing spending, particularly on national defense. Suddenly deficits *do* matter — well, they mattered to me (and many others) all along.

          1. The problem begins and ends with the People.

            We have to take responsibility for the way our elected representatives behave and I don’t mean using the power of the voting booth. I mean, pick up the fscking phone!

            They swear an oath before us, to uphold and defend the Constitution, and after their freshman year in office, they’re emasculated of all their constituents’ hopes and dreams and their heads are filled with the party-line talking points. You have to be on the same page!

            They are elected to fight for the People, but end up in a war over party-line ideology.

          2. Where in my comment is there any language about government employees out to get me? Nor did I “lambast” anyone. I don’t know why you have preface your thoughts on the subject of government size with ad hominem attack. The point of the story is how Congressional hearings are being called with a big fanfare, while those making the calls are seemingly unaware that a 10 year old FCC regulation mandates most of the activities that they are investigating. This is not an issue of Right or Left, Dem vs GOP vs TP. It’s an issue of an organization grown beyond efficient management capability. I’m willing to own up to crappy politicians on my side of the aisle, how about you? If yes, then let’s simply agree a problem exists and figure out a solution. We can argue there, but let us first agree that a problem exists.

      2. It’s the case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. This is America now. Trust in authorities has plummeted to the lowest level. Politicians who fight tooth and nails to represent the voters have been found to take bribes from vested interests that are diametrically opposite to the interest of the country. Services such as finance, medical care, insurance and education instead of providing services to the people have turned into money-grabbing scumbags. America is no more the conscience of the world. It is the cancer of every problems that are plaguing the world.

    2. @First 2010, Then 2012

      Two questions for you:
      1. If you could’t include a political dig at Obama/Democrats, would you have anything to say at all?… I thought not.

      2. When Obama trounces the Republican nominee in the 2012 election, will you please come back here and eat some crow? …I thought not

      1. Wow. You really think Obama is doing well? You really believe the American people see him as a strong leader that makes good decisions?

        The Canadian poster made no reference to Obama but our leaders in general. I’d suggest you’re a bit defensive and perhaps protest too much.

        1. The DataDude is including other comments made by ‘First 2010, Then 2012’ in a different thread on this same topic elsewhere on this site. In that thread Obama and the Dems were mocked by ‘First 2010, Then 2012’.

        2. First of all, if you look at past postings by “First 2010, Then 2012” you will quickly discern that all of his/her postings are politically- oriented (and usually Off-Topic) tiresome anti-Obama/anti-Democrat negative rants. He/she is strictly a one-tick pony.

          Secondly, I’m not a knee-jerk Obama supporter, but given the challenges left to him by the eight disastrous year of GW Bush, including the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, I am quite comfortable seeing his administration through another four years. In my opinion, there are simply no credible Republican candidates on the horizon that have any chance of beating Obama in 2012, barring some monumental economic or political event in the next 18 months. In fact the Republican front runners right now are a joke.

        3. Wow. You really think Obama is doing well?

          So well, he will be perceived as a statesman who was willing to meet in the middle, even over the objections of his own party. He more than met the Republicans half-way and he’ll use that message to engage middle-right America.

          His effort to move towards the center, both fiscally and in foreign policy these past few months are designed to get him reelected.

          When the debates begin, you’ll be witness to a wizened President who’s own gray hair will belie the ease with which he tackled challenges few Presidents in history have been witness to.

          So yes, I think he will win the Presidency based on his to do list of accomplishments. He’ll win easily because if Trump is the best the Right has to offer, then you guys are in bigger trouble than you think.

          In fact, the Republican party has been infiltrated by a radical fringe element that has unnerved a lot of Americans (tea party) who have risen up to reclaim their party. The days of no-compromise ideology is over, if this two-party system can’t meet in the middle.

          1. If the Republican Party has been infiltrated by a radical fringe from the right, I think we can fairly argue that the Democratic Party has been infiltrated by a radical fringe from the left. Factually however, the country leans middle-right.

            While I agree that our two party system is failing because we cannot meet in the middle, I think it’s larger than that. Our system has been taken over by a very vocal minority who drive policy with lobbying efforts and money. Our government is hardly representative anymore.

            Last, in regards to the President – the Obamacare bill met nobody in the middle, his foreign policy has been non-existent, and the economy has still not recovered. Keep blaming Bush, but in 18 months, the American people won’t be holding Bush accountable. Obama’s approval numbers today already show that confidence in his leadership is weak. However, you make a valid point – the GOP must put forth a candidate that can withstand the beat down the left wing media (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, MSNBC) will throw at them. Granted, FOX leans right, but 6 on 1 is a tough fight.

            @Datadude – my bad. Didn’t realize 2010/2012 was always political. There are other forums for that.

            1. Nonsense. You have to go back to the 1970s to find the leftist presence in the Democratic party being anywhere near the radical right-wing control of the current GOP.
              One of the major reasons that the recovery is stalling is the ending of Federal stimulus spending. Because the GOP suddenly became deficit-averse, they killed the recovery.
              Oh, and Obamacare is virtually IDENTICAL to GOP health care proposals in the 1990s.

            2. Our system has been taken over by a very vocal minority who drive policy with lobbying efforts and money. Our government is hardly representative anymore.

              It’s called Corporate America and their lawyers live on K Street. They have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and cocktails with our representatives, telling them they too “represent the hardworking people back home. Working together, we can address their needs”.

              Looking out for corporate interests is a win for the American people.

            3. the GOP must put forth a candidate that can withstand the beat down the left wing media (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, MSNBC) will throw at them.

              That’s corporate america, not the left wing media!

              General Electric, Disney, Viacom and Time Warner. As for NPR, what do you expect from a non-profit?

              I think most people accept the fact that network news is the vocal branch of a corporate empire who’s only real interests are those of their sponsors and government.

              Corporate america is a run by handful of elitists who control the public airwaves that inform the three-hundred million people of the US.

              They shape the news whichever way the money flows, which ever way the story has to go. They are platform-agnostic but have been known to single out and reward those in Washington DC who speaks their language.

              Know anybody like that?

    3. Not to mention Joe Barton (R-Texas) and everyone else who has gotten involved last year and more recently.

      In fact, I’ll bet that YOU were surprised too, F10T12, although lack of knowledge never stopped you from pontificating on this subject (or any other).

    1. Will the hit-whores now attack the government instead of Apple for not telling us? With the distinction that the government actually IS tracking us on their equipment, while Apple only didn’t encrypt a cached file on your very own phone.

    1. And it’d probably be easier to get a subpoena for the carrier, than it would be to get physical access to either your iPhone or your iPhone backup on the computer you sync with.

  1. Steve Jobs is investigating the FCC’s tracking of cell phone users. Al Franken summoned to Cupertino.

    You know, I can’t even look at that guy’s goofy face without laughing. They don’t think they broke the mold after he was made, I think it broke while he was being made. That would explain the face!

    1. LOL

      I don’t agree with Franken’s politics, but he certainly was a great comedy writer, even before he joined the cast of SNL. He and Janine Garafolo are prime examples of how Leftist rhetoric steals all humor.

  2. This article still does not explain why this information is retained. I cannot see in the FCC regulation any requirement for retention of data. This hearing can be a chance for all of this to be explained, clarified and an end put to Datagate. It also can help reveal what Apple does with this data in contrast to what Google does. As a result, I am all for the hearings.

  3. I guess it is a measure of Apple’s success – off the charts profits and unheard of (?) cash reserves, brilliant designs (every competitor copies while simultaneously belittling as fads), stable software that integrates seamlessly with its own hardware, app stores, iTunes etc. – that it has become the lightning rod of so many different negative/jealous forces arrayed against it, including (paid) politicians/third-rate SNL alumnus comedians. How stupid must Markey be? He received a letter from Apple last year, apparently answering questions he only asking today.

    Now if Apple could just acquire some Reardon metal!!!!!

  4. newsflash: when a person turns off his phone or the preferences that control location services, he presumes that the location tracking is turned off. On Android and iOS, this is not the case. This is unintuitive and unacceptable. It must be fixed. “Off” means off.

    Come on, MDN, get with the program.

  5. In the letter from Apple last year, didn’t they say the information was sent to Apple anonymously? So Apple is not tracking “users”, but rather just cell towers and wifi hotspots. I think that needs to be made very clear so people will stop obsessing over the misinformation that this information is tracking phones or people.

    But we shall wait for the response from Apple, right?

          1. exactly. while it’s nice to see news outlets (and the public at large) waking up to the fact that cellphones (and carriers) are capable of tracking your whereabouts, it would be great to see an explanation (from somebody who actually knows something) about why the AT&T iPhone stores a history of location-related info, while the Verizon one does not.

          2. The app doesn’t reveal the location of the consolidated.db file, it only interprets a few columns of information and presents it in an analog format using the map.

            To locate the DB file, you’re required to enter Terminal and invoke select hidden directories, which the average person isn’t going to attempt.

            Could a third-party access that same DB file? No. Apple confines their code to a sandbox, precluding them from reading anything but their own data.

            However, if you’ve jailbroken your iPhone, then you have left the door open.

      1. oldjoey, I’m talking about the “consolidated.db” history file which has started this whole brouhaha, not the specifics of the OP. sorry for the confusion.

  6. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed by encasing yourself in several layers of bubble wrap and wearing tin foil on your head and body. I feel much better now.

    (Will someone please tell me why black helicopters and Predator drones have been flying overhead lately? Wait! I’ve got it! The SINGULARITY!!!)

  7. Though I don’t necessarily agree with the last statement of the article which smacks of unseemly bias, I do appreciate their approach to research which is quite refreshing in that they are not afraid to actually do research.
    The idiots that pose as journalists today wouldn’t know how to research an article if their lives depended on it.

    1. But that’s just it, they’re not journalists and they may as well be working for the National Enquirer.

      It’s only after a story like this that gets picked up by the mainstream press, do we see the journalists enter the fray, and they come armed with the facts, not only to dispute the story, but the jerkwads who peddle this stuff in the name of hits.

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