Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Fuss About Location Tracking

The recent uproar over location tracking in iOS devices seem to be overblown. Did anyone not realize that their iPhones or iPads could track their location? You can be tracked so many ways. Your favourite iOS device is just one of those many ways of being tracked. Location tracking is so everywhere in the technology of today.

If you’ve not heard about it, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden announced (MacRumor link) their discovery that iOS devices recorded location data in a hidden file in iOS devices. Personally I felt this was more of a publicity stunt to raise their profile. It turns out that Allan’s and Warden’s discovery wasn’t much of a discovery anyway, because 4 years earlier, Alex Levinson, a student from Rochester Institute of Technology, already made public his discovery of about the same thing. He published his research in a computer science conference, and subsequently contributed a chapter to a book on iOS forensic anaysis. (Source: Tech-Ex and Gigaom)

Then, guess what? This isn’t even something unique about iOS. Android also does about the same thing. CNET asked Google a series of questions, and Google was apparently unable to comment on all of them immediately.

Location tracking isn’t even about the embedded features of iOS or Android, or other smartphone operating systems. Don’t you know your telco already knows where your phone is at any time? Yeah, cellular location isn’t as accurate as GPS positioning that your phone may be capable of obtaining, but it is pretty darn good too

Inside your workplace, your IT networking people also have access to location information within their network. I’m not just talking about nailing down your access to physical network points, but about location tracking using Wifi triangulation. These are enterprise wireless features that have been available for many years. Have you heard of 802.11-based asset tracking? How do you think they work?

Then there’s more and more. How about your EZ-link card? Your cash card? Some can track where you’re spending money, how much your spending, and what you’re spending on.

You are always being watched. Some way or other.

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