How To Use Your iPhone to Stalk Yourself

It looks like the privacy hippies were finally right about something, your mobile phone really is a pocket sized tracking device.

Turns out that as of iOS 4.0, iPhones have been tracking your physical movements and logging it along with the phone’s backups.

A small team of researchers have discovered these logs in iTune’s backup files, they’ve released a handy little app that collects all the data from your user folder and plots it on a map. iPhoneTracker.app and further information available here.

Here is the visualization of everywhere I’ve been since Sept 28, 2010:

You can see lots of activity in and around Winnipeg (including trips up to the Gimli and Victoria Beach), a flight to Toronto and subsequent travel around southern Ontario and a road trip to Minneapolis. It’s fascinating.

I’m not sure if this is a terrifying privacy hole or a neat little hidden feature. I’m leaning towards neat feature, since the data is stored locally on your computer and can be encrypted automatically by iTunes.

At this point in time a method for disabling the “feature” does not exist. I expect Apple will be responding in short order.

7 thoughts on “How To Use Your iPhone to Stalk Yourself

  1. Is your phone more accurate then mine? Even with increasing the resolution (via the source code) of the program all you can really tell is that I live in Winnipeg, and have visited MSP and ATL airports. And even those last two are a bit hard to tell without prior knowledge.

    1. I don’t know how accurate it is, I’d have to check the timestamps.
      There are certainly some very inaccurate outliers, 10s of kilometers from places I’ve actually been. At the same time, there are points around YYZ that see to correspond to gates.

      Apple needs to explain what’s going on here. While the data may not be accurate enough to prove that you were at a strip club on Wednesday at 10pm, it could point to your visit to Vegas on Sunday.

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