The claims are made in a long blog post by Alex Levinson, senior engineer for Katana Forensics, which develops Lantern, an iOS forensic analysis application. Levinson's post is a response to a presentation this week by Alasdair Allan and Peter Wardman at the O'Reilly Where 2.0 conference.
As reported yesterday, the two programmers presented details of an iOS 4.0 database file, usually unencrypted, created on the iPhone and then synced to a user's Mac. This file contains thousands of time-stamped latitude and longitude pairings, apparently based on cell tower triangulation calculations. The data is a very detailed track of where the iPhone (or iPad or iPod Touch) has been. The programmers created an open source application, called iPhone Tracker, that plots the data on a map, so the user can see the track of the device's locations.
In his own blog post, Wardman notes and links to a comment by another forensics researcher that this "consolidated.db" file will be familiar to forensics researchers, that is, to people like Levinson. But it was clearly new to Allan and Wardman, who were startled at how much location data the file contained. Wardman even acknowledged another attempt in the fall of 2010, by a French writer, to popularize a wider awareness of this iPhone data file.
Levinson argues that Apple is being "completely misrepresented" by the two men, and that the file is neither new nor secret. Levinson says he discovered and wrote about it in a research paper and book months ago.