And they say politics can be a slow-moving system. Within hours of it being revealed that Apple has been tracking the location of iPhones since the release of iOS4, Senator Al Franken had written to Apple CEO Steve Jobs wanting answers. Writing that “there are numerous ways in which this information could be abused by criminals and bad actors. Furthermore, there is no indication that this file is any different for underage iPhone or iPad users, meaning that the millions of children and teenagers who use iPhone or iPad devices also risk having their location collected and compromised,” Franken asked nine questions of Jobs about the matter – questions that he’s probably not alone in wanting answered:
1. Why does Apple collect and compile this location data? Why did Apple choose to initiate tracking this data in its iOS 4 operating system?
2. Does Apple collect and compile this location data for laptops?
3. How is this data generated? (GPS, cell tower triangulation, Wi-Fi triangulation, etc.)
4. How frequently is a user’s location recorded? What triggers the creation of a record of someone’s location?
5. How precise is this location data? Can it track the users location to 50 m, 100 m, etc.?
6. Why is this data not encrypted? What steps will Apple take to encrypt the data?
7. Why were Apple consumers never affirmatively informed of the collection and retention of their location data in this manner? Why did Apple not seek affirmative consent before doing so?
9. To whom, if anyone, including Apple, has this data been disclosed? When and why were these disclosures made?
Whether Franken’s concern will change now that experts are explaining that the geotracking neither anything new, or anything to be concerned about remains to be seen.
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