Apparently Apple is being secretive (and by default, bad). If you own and iPhone, it will track where you’ve been, roughly every few minutes. A neat application- iPhone Tracker – is available for individuals to visualize what type of data is on their phone. None of this data is sent to Apple. It sits on your iPhone and is transferred to your computer when you synch devices. I took a few minutes to download it and play around a bit. Here are two simple images (the timeline is from September 2010 until yesterday) First, the macro view:
This is a complete non-issue. We should expect our devices to capture all kinds of stuff about us. There are things on my laptop that I’m sure a security expert could pull out to provide insight into my habits and behaviours. I personally wish Apple would have disclosed this so I can track it, much like I track my laptop activity with Rescue Time. If you use technology, are online, have a mobile phone, your life is quantified. The real issue is not with data collection. It relies with data use – such as police officers downloading data from your phone (assuming this is a true story – it seems a bit out there, but versions of this story appear on numerous news sites). Collecting data has always been easy. But we have privacy and social norms around how we interact in a physical world. Even though the front door of my neighbour’s house is unlocked doesn’t mean that I can go in and search through his bill files and check out his credit card receipts. All of us have personal data stored in our homes/apartments. And we all know it exists. However, we have established norms for use of that data. The online environment doesn’t have those norms yet. So we get all stressed when we find data is being collected without our knowledge. Expect it. Worry about those that find innovative ways of misusing that data. I’d be rather irate if Apple was getting a copy of my location data file. When it’s only on my iPhone or laptop, I can’t say I entirely care.