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Al Franken To Steve Jobs On iPhone Tracking: I Want Answers


According to O'Reilly Radar, who broke the story, the Apple products log "latitude-longitude coordinates along with a timestamp." The fact that the data is unencrypted and unprotected, they report, means it could be easily accessed if it lands in the wrong hands. The devices store about a year's worth of data, the researchers found. Their full report can be found here.

"It is also entirely conceivable that malicious persons may create viruses to access this data from customers' iPhones, iPads, and desktop and laptop computers. There are numerous ways in which this information could be abused by criminals and bad actors," Franken wrote.

Franken expressed special concern for iPhone and iPad users who are minors, writing that an "estimated 13% of the 108 million iPhones and 19 Million iPad devices sold are used by individuals under the age of 18."

Among Franken's specific questions to Jobs are:

  • Why did Apple choose to initiate tracking this data in its iOS 4 operating system?
  • Why were Apple consumers never affirmatively informed of the collection and retention of their location data in this manner? Why did Apple not seek affirmative consent before doing so?
  • Does Apple believe this conduct is permissible under the terms of its privacy policy?

Read Franken's letter here.

h/t City Pages

About The Author


David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He's a native of Minnesota. Reach him at