April 25, 2011, 3:20 PM — I don't know if it's the creepiness or iPhone's own celebrity, but news that Steve Jobs' adorable little device is tracking the movements of its owners in appalling detail got the kind of public reaction you usually see only following a declaration of war or another Lindsay Lohan sobriety outrage.
People and journalists who very nearly understand why encrypting system-information files might be important on a smartphone have crowded every available medium with opinions on whether Apple should be burned at the stake for recording user locations in an open log file, or whether it should slap a map on the data and charge a premium for the convenience of seeing where you've been.
(There are a number of GPS apps for both Android and iPhone that do exactly that, and some people do pay for them. Presumably the owners know when they launch the apps that they will let the phone track where they are. It's not the tracking that's the problem, it's the secrecy.)
Steve Jobs flatly denied iOS is tracking anyone. "The info circulating is false," Jobs told MacRumorsin a very brief email interview.
The WSJ called BS on that pretty quickly. iPhones track and store location data even when location services are turned off, it found, though it only stores the information. It doesn't transmit anything back to Apple.
That hardly matters, though, does it? How often do you loan your phone to someone, leave it sitting around on your desk, forget it in a store, at the gym, in the airport or other public place that could give a stranger five minutes alone with it to download your unprotected data?
And why would you even care if Google's Street View vans collected the location and SSID name of the wireless router in your house as it passed by and took those cool pictures of your street?
You never leave your phone around or leave your WiFi password on the default and don't believe any of the Bluetooth or WiFi exploits designed to suck information from iPhones without touching them wouldn't be able to touch you, having all that detailed data on people sitting in millions of iPhones poses a security risk for everyone else.
Source: O'Reilly Radar