A story came out last week during the Where 2.0 conference hosted by O’Reilly that, unbeknownst to most iPhone owners, that iOS tracks your location and keeps this valuable information in a file. The unencrypted file is then housed on the computer in which you back your phone up to and can be utilized to show every location in which you’ve used your iPhone.
This is a pretty alarming revelation to many iPhone owners. It must be thrown out that this type of information is kept on many platforms, not just the iPhone – so the issue is definitely not limited to iOS users.
however, I was alarmed by many of my more nerdy friends who said comments on Facebook and Twitter such as “well, we tweet and Facebook locations all the time – why are people freaking out about this”?. It was my response to them and others is that *mainstream* smartphone users are not on these platforms and would be floored if location data was more readily available.
Yesterday, some numbers came out that validated my thoughts. According to TRUSTe, an Internet privacy service, privacy is a leading concern for smartphone users with security a close second. Yes in our terms of service, location use and broadcasting is spelled out, but the fact is that we don’t read these ridiculous terms when we use our technology.
Also, according to the study, 77% of respondents say that they do not want to share their location with app owners and developers. Additionally, 85% say they are uncomfortable with advertise tracking.
Apple’s response to the inquiries has been that location is tracked so app developers can send you notifications based on your location. I can see the use of this – how about a task tracking application that reminds you to pick up bread as you pass by the store?
The use case is definitely there, but it seems there is still some issues to be settled to make smartphone. Perhaps companies such as Apple and Google need to better define what’s going to happen with your personal data. Simplified controls could go a long way to make customers more comfortable.