The age of information and connectivity, didn’t it start out being such a miraculous thing. The whole world seemed to open up and be that much more available to everybody. There’s been good and bad to that. Think about the non-violent Egyptian Revolution, how it happened in about 18 days because of Facebook and Twitter. Think about being able to talk to and see friends living on another continent.
But one of the downsides is that this miraculous age seems to be heralding the end of the concept of privacy. And there definitely used to be such a thing. And it was a reality too. But now? The other day I saw a news clip on Chinese hackers. A Chinese security expert showed how in about 15 seconds he was able to get into somebody’s email account and crack the password. That’s pretty horrifying.
But worse, if you’ve got the latest Apple iPhone, did you know that the operating system has a hidden tracking file which has been tracking your every move? Two journalists and researchers Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan say they discovered the file called “consolidated.db” which came with Apple’s updated mobile operating system in June 2010. I guess it’s unauthorized surveillance.
Warden and Allen say they reported their discovery to Apple, but haven’t heard anything from them. Apple hasn’t responded at all, even though this has now been reported on major news networks. Apparently the data is collected using cell phone towers to triangulate approximate locations. So far, there’s no evidence that it’s also transmitted to Apple as it’s collected.
The biggest problem with this seems to be that usually a court order is needed to gain access to this kind of info, which is collected by cell phone providers but kept behind a firewall. I didn’t even know that. I don’t like anybody collecting info about me without my permission. I’m tempted to throw my cell phone away. It’s a nuisance anyway. Because let’s face it, who cares about court orders these days?
Anyway, this file makes it possible for anybody who can get access to your phone or the computer it’s synced to, to know where you’ve been, so you’re pretty unprotected. But you didn’t give Apple permission to create the file or collect the data, and they didn’t warn you when you bought your iPhone.
Warden and Allen have created a program which lets you see a map of everywhere you’ve been since June if you’ve got the latest iPhone. Click here to try it out for yourself. Sam Biddle, a Gizmodo editor, used the program and was appalled at how accurate the data was, recording his every move in his professional and personal life, block by block for months.
Apart from how sinister it could be, I’m gobsmacked at the monumental cheek of it and the permissive entitlement. This is what happens when companies have too much power, they start doing whatever they feel like. Nobody seems to know why Apple has inserted the spy-file, because they haven’t said a thing yet. What are they planning to do with it? Will we get the truth from them, or will they just spin it?