iPhone Location Tracking Gets Worse: Apple Saves the Data

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On Wednesday we learned that everyone's iPhone is secretly recording their every move in a file stored on the device. Last night, The Wall Street Journal discovered that smartphone geolocation scandal is worse than previously reported: the data isn't just stored on your phone and computer, it's also being transmitted to Apple headquarters. Oh yeah, and it's not just Apple that does this, Google is also collecting your geolocation data on Android phones.

Why are Apple and Google stalking us? According to the Journal it's all part of a grand "race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people's locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the $2.9 billion market for location-based services—expected to rise to $8.3 billion in 2014." These are the types of services that help you find local businesses for your consumer needs. Your location data is also good for helping phone companies recognize weak coverage areas and, for Google's purposes, it helps the company find out how fast traffic is moving along specific stretches of highway.

Some are already speculating that the finding will spur on an investigation by Congress. Why is this a big deal? Well, for some people it isn't: they like having a record of all their whereabouts, like our Atlantic colleague Alexis Madrigal. But, as noted in our post Wednesday, there are a number of concerns. What if your phone gets stolen? What if your jealous spouse gets a hold of it? Police used to have to get a warrant for this information. Now it's readily available on your phone. Also, as TechCrunch points out today, divorce lawyers are likely going to start subpoenaing smartphones quite regularly. Now we have to trust Apple and Google with this information too.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.