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Tech Thursday – Why Is Your Smartphone Tracking You? (UPDATED)

A recent discovery of a data base stored on the iPhone, that shows the phone tracks your whereabouts, not very precisely though, has some chilling effects when it comes to privacy.

Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This seems to be the big news story in the tech world at the moment, as people speculate why this is being done. There’s theories that it’s the carriers using the data to determine signal coverage and strength to this being something the Federal Government has requested being an “added feature” of your phone, but undocumented.

What troubles me is, the latter combined with another story I saw that says Michigan State Police have been extracting data from people’s phones during traffic stops. They haven’t said what they are doing with whatever data they are taking off the phone, but the ACLU is now involved to find out.

You’re welcome to call me a nervous, paranoid person if you like, but the fact that these 2 stories have been made public in a relatively short amount of time, makes me think this is more a government thing then something the carrier wanted. While I and others have no hard proof this is the case, it’s very possible. And the fact no one from Apple or the Michigan State Police have responded with what all this data being collected is for, we’re kind of left to our imaginations as to what is going on.

What someone could do with that data is also still being explored, but needless to say, if no one is using it for bad things now, it won’t be long before someone figures out how to use it for that.

I have sent emails to the Albany, Troy and Schenectady Police Departments, asking if they have any policy like the Michigan State police in place and if so what is the data used for. I will update this story with any info they release to me.


April 28th: Yesterday, Apple released an official statement about the tracking data on customer’s iPhones. Google and Microsoft have also released statements to the effect of what they are tracking and what they are not. Long story short, they all do it, but no personal data is being used.

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