Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Phones tracking you: Google says data is anonymous

A couple of weeks ago the world of geekdom was shaken when some people announced they found out the iPhone was storing data regarding the location of wi-fi hotspots and cellphone antennas. Everyone was outraged about the invasion of privacy and many were concerned about Apple following them around.
Soon thereafter it was known that Android based phones were doing the same thing or even worse! The craziness spread as everyone tried to hide in bunkers because they were being tracked:

In any case, Apple said the devices were storing too much data due to a "bug" that was fixed last week with a software update, while Google came out today to assure everyone this data is anonymous and only stored for 'about a week' :

A small amount of location information regarding nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers is kept on the Android device to help the user continue to enjoy the service when no server connection is available and to improve speed and battery life. This information on the device is likewise not tied or traceable to a specific user.

 However, they also state that, while Google will not keep any of this information, they can't assure the public 3rd party apps don't do so, or even more, send it to the internet.

So, is it time to take our tinfoil hats out and cover our brains, or is this a whole thing blown out of proportion?
I think it's a little bit of both. While cellphones gathering location data does sound logical in order to save battery life not having to locate all the antennas or wi-fi spots all over again, this data should be at the very least encrypted, in my opinion. As was shown a couple of weeks ago almost anyone with some computer knowledge can access it, and that is a little of a violation of privacy. I can see people not trusting their spouses hacking into their iPhones just to check where they've been... Just wait, you'll see, someone will.

As a side rant, I think we are becoming a little bit too attached to these things. I see kids today walking around transfixed with their cell phones, having at them 24/7, texting by the millions. It's quite ironic to see these devices that should bring us all closer together - everyone is at the distance of a call - are actually setting us apart in the sense that we don't get together as much anymore.

Well that's all for today, I have to make a phone call.


  1. What ISN'T tracking us these days? siigh.... -_-

  2. yep this sucks but what can we do?


    i feel like people overreact to things like that, it's not like someone's following you around watching your every move, where you've been is just stored on some server somewhere doing nothing special

    except maybe helping them shove ads better suited for us down our throats

  4. Its real creepy, but its good when info like this gets out. keeps the companies in check really

  5. Just because it's anonymous doesn't mean they're not collecting demographic information of seeing what places people visit in common with others.

  6. Agree with Punky, anonymous or not I don't like the idea of information being sorted on my porn surging habits.

  7. It's just a price we are paying for advancing technology

  8. There is an option to turn it off and not allow that data. but who knows if that actually stops it.

  9. So much buzz about this topic