Apple’s iPhone and iPad tracking: Where do you draw the line on privacy?


A screen grab of an iPhone user’s travel in the south of England provided by the creators of the iPhone Tracker app. (Courtesy of O’Reilly Media)

Although similar data is collected by other cell-phone providers, its usually proteced by firewalls. The data on the iPhone can be gathered by anyone with access to the computer you sync to your iPhone, making “it possible for anyone from a jealous spouse to a private investigator to get a detailed picture of your movements,” Warden and Allan wrote on their blog.

Now that iPhone and iPad users have had a day to let the news sink in, they are reacting to the revelation in two very different ways. Some are outraged that their information was stored without their knowledge, including lawmakers. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to Steve Jobs demanding answers about the pracitice.

Others think that it’s pretty darn neat.

It appears these concerns aren’t shared by everyone. Gawker’s Adrian Chen pointed out that some people are using the app to share their maps on the Internet. Chen gives a link to a number of Tumblr users sharing their data with the hashtag # ipphonetracker. The same hashtag reveals many Twitter users sharing similar info.

CNN broadcasted a map of a producer’s journey through Tokyo, and Blogpost’s own Melissa Bell offered her information up to be used for the post. (Sadly for those of your interested in Bell’s movements, her map could not be successfully created since the program is currently only available to Mac OsX users and she’s still a model behind.)

Each of the many, many, many concerns over Facebook’s privacy settings seem to launch an initial backlash, but the number of Facebook users hasn’t dropped dramatically. I doubt that iPhone users will abandon the technology because of this discovery, either. It seems that people are becoming more accustomed to giving up privacy — as long as the get the benefits of the technology.

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