iPhone Tracking: “Engineering Mistake”

The latest drama at Apple has been over the apparent tracking of user location via a hidden program deep inside the phone. Apparently this ability came as a surprise to Apple programmers who were busy looking for other forms of data collection committed by their iPhones. In looking for these suspected collections they discovered that for nearly a year their locations in relation to the Earth’s lines of latitude and longitude were being logged and uploaded onto the Apple server.

Which makes me wonder: what kinds of data collection were they originally looking for when they uncovered this Orwellian “mistake”? I can and will take their word that they did not plan for such invasive data collection to exist. But, just for the sake of argument, let’s say they did. What would be the benefits, if any?

Maybe for two weeks out of the year your phone had you located somewhere in the southern United States, but for the rest of the year you’re in Chicago. In those two weeks searches on your phone were conducted in another language; let’s say Spanish, so instead of looking for top videos you submitted a search for mejores videos. The collaboration of your location and search would suggest you have Spanish-speaking family members whom you showed off your iPhone to. Maybe around Christmastime you use your iPhone to buy your parents an electronic gift and so their shipping address is revealed. Apple would then have an address and names to market the iPhone to, and they know to do it in Spanish.

Is this a paranoid delusion? It’s most certainly paranoid, but it’s not delusional. This is a real capability, and not just for Apple, but for any company who is able to track not just your location but the things you shop for and even what language you use. To someone with a prodigious knack for marketing, this kind of information is pure gold.

It is not in Apple’s best interest to perform such frightening data mining on its customers. The folks there are pretty smart, and they know their clientele are not the kind of people who like to be snooped on, especially by a company who 30 years ago changed the way the computer industry worked forever by separating itself from its Orwellian competition. But when you read about your phone company’s ability to track your movement, allow yourself to get a little creative in your suspicions of such a capability, because in all likelihood they probably pay several people to think about the same things… just in case.

Thanks to Brandon for submitting this guest article!

11 thoughts on “iPhone Tracking: “Engineering Mistake””

  1. It is scary what kind of information they collect about someone? Do they have the right to collect such information?

  2. I’m not sure if I take Apple’s word. That is a lot of really good information to have. So you have 4 years or so worth of data from all iphone users and then say, whoops, we found a bug….but you still have the data. Apple can still do a lot with the tracking data. I don’t really care, other than I didnt say ok to it, but Im sure some people don’t like Big Brother watching.

  3. I think the biggest topic for apple is the marketing and advertisement opportunities that can be utilized because of this “glitch”. Imagine what kind of pop-ups we’ll see in the next year stemming from the information they could use from this. I’m definitely NOT concerned that apple knows where and what i’ve been doing with my phone the last year….but, if i have to close a pop-up window, and i’m NOT on my computer……BELIEVE me, i’ll be switching to a not-so-smart phone

    Just sayin, the only thing they can do with this little bug is submit the info to marketing and advertising. They can’t publicly release any of this info, can they?..I’d be surprised if it turned out to actually be a “Mistake” on their part. They can USE the info generated by this…really? come on! haha, thanks for the post on this info! 🙂

  4. If you think about it, google does the same, whenever you are logged in into your google’s account – they save whatever you on the internet, track your search queries, localisation, everything.. these days nobody can stay anonymous I think.

  5. Most of the phones that have GPS capabilities are traceable, not just with an iPhone. It amazes me that now we cannot keep our privacy about anything location, or internet use without someone knowing.

  6. I have heard that phones with Android operating system can transmit information about the location of the owner of the phone at any time, in addition, when the phone without a battery

  7. Apple has definitely got some control issues for sure. And now we know they also have privacy issues.

    But the products are cool!

  8. I highly doubt that they had no clue such data mining was going on. Its the fact that they got caught or were afraid of being caught and told on themselves. That kind of information like you said is golden. The more information you have on a customer the more likely you will able to specifically target them for what they want and need. Lets just hope they don’t get too buddy buddy with big bro!


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