Originally published May 15 2011
Apple, Google mobile phones secretly track users and upload the data
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) - Is your iPhone or Android spying on you? Quite possibly, according to a recent analysis of documents and data by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the paper, Apple's iPhones and Google's Android smartphones "regularly transmit their locations back to Apple and Google," as part of the companies' attempts to build huge databases that will enable them to pinpoint where you are.
Why would they do this? The easy answer is capitalism; they want to be able to access a $2.9 billion market based on location-based services, WSJ reported - a market expected to explode to more than $8 billion in just three years.
But the implications to privacy - as well as the potential that such personal information could eventually be taken by government, should be real cause for concern.
According to the WSJ, which based its report on research done by security analyst and onetime hacker Samy Kamkar, Android phones transmit location data to Google several times an hour. The devices record their location every few seconds.
The phones transmit vital information about nearby Wi-Fi connections, such as the location's name, signal strength. They also send back a unique phone identifier which undoubtedly reveals who owns the phone.
Officials at Apple, meanwhile, have admitted their iPhone and iPad devices "intermittently" collects location data, to include GPS coordinates, in a letter to Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) last year.
In essence, the pocket electronic devices are de facto tracking machines that their manufacturers are using to gather information about you, without your permission and quite possibly in violation of constitutional expectations of privacy.
Markey, in a statement, has said, "Apple needs to safeguard the personal location information of its users to ensure that an iPhone doesn't become an iTrack."
"Safeguard?" Should buying an electronic device translate into an automatic surrender of constitutional rights?
There are no indications that purchasers of these products were informed beforehand they would be used to track their whereabouts. A better solution would be to prohibit the personal tracking of iPhone and Android users in the first place.
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