20 April 2011

Outrage over storage of Apple location data is misplaced

The infosec community is outraged today that iPhones and iPads are storing location data. Headlines proclaim the travesty: iPhone and iPad 3G caught keeping secret location tracking database andiSpy Conspiracy: Your iPhone Is Secretly Tracking Everywhere You've Been. Two researchers developed an open source application that plots this location data on a map.  I too would be outraged, except for the fact that Apple's licensing agreements for the iPad and iPhone expressly address this issue:
(b) Location Data. Apple and its partners and licensees may provide certain services through your iPad that rely upon location information. To provide these services, where available, Apple and its partners and licensees may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use your location data, including the real-time geographic location of your iPad. The location data collected by Apple is collected in a form that does not personally identify you and may be used by Apple and its partners and licensees to provide location-based products and services. By using any location-based services on your iPad, you agree and consent to Apple's and its partners' and licensees' transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data to provide location-based products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time by not using the location-based features or by turning off the Location Services setting on your iPad. Not using these features will not impact the non location-based functionality of your iPad. When using third party applications or services on the iPad that use or provide location data, you are subject to and should review such third party's terms and privacy policy on use of location data by such third party applications or services.
 Note that the iPhone agree is virtually identical. The text in bold is Apple's emphasis.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I don't read terms of service and licensing agreements. Very few people do, but the failure to do so doesn't give you a free pass to complain. Ignorance of service agreements does not justify moral outrage. You suck it up and admit to yourself that you didn't read it, and move on.
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