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  1. #1
    iPhone location data...
    Cr00zng's Avatar
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    iPhone location data...
    My questions relate to this article, about the wireless carriers selling GPS location data to basically anyone:

    AT&T denies that selling phone location data was illegal as FCC investigates | Ars Technica

    Both the FCC and the carriers are wrong, pretty much in violation of the 47 U.S. Code 222. Privacy of customer information:

    47 U.S. Code SS 222 - Privacy of customer information | U.S. Code | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute

    But I am getting side tracked...

    Obviously, Apple, Google, etc., are not carriers and as such, the regulation above does not apply to them. On the other hand, they do track the location of the device via apps, such as "Find my Friends", "Find my Phone", etc. Unless there's a regulation for these companies for selling location data, that may or may not be enforced, these companies could theoretically sell location data as well. Is anyone aware, if there's such regulation and/or companies selling location data?

    Would disabling GPS prevent location tracking by the carriers and companies? I do disable both the GPS and the wireless connection, having an unlimited plan makes that easy. Only the "Compass" and "Maps" have access to GPS location, when they are used. Would that prevent the carrier tracking the location data?

    My understanding is that disabling GPS still allows 911, or National Emergency Address Database ("NEAD") to access GPS location data. Is that correct? If it is, then the carrier can access the location data as well, since the "NEAD" flows through on their network.

    TIA
    Last edited by Cr00zng; 05-18-2019 at 06:48 AM. Reason: Premature submit...

  2. #2
    iPhone location data...
    IWT's Avatar
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    I can’t begin to answer your question as it applies to the USA and I live in the UK.

    I’m afraid my knowledge of the law is close to nonexistent in both countries; but may I pose a question.

    In doing so, I am not trying to be naive, ignorant or patronising.

    What is the real danger from location data being sold? I can see that it could, and probably does, lead to targeted advertising.

    I can understand that if someone is involved in acts of naughtiness, police and other agencies could use that data to secure a conviction.

    But what is the real risk to the great majority of law abiding citizens?

    It’s a serious question.

    Ian
    Ian

  3. #3
    iPhone location data...
    Rod Sprague's Avatar
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    It's my understanding that an individual mob phone can be located by triangulation from transmission towers or its movement tracked from single towers as it moves from on reception area to another.


    Sent from my iPad using Mac-Forums
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  4. #4
    iPhone location data...
    Cr00zng's Avatar
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    @Ian...

    Let me just say, that I have no intention for doing anything wrong. My iPhone is a business device and used as such...

    The location data being sold is a privacy issue, that is regulated/prohibited in the US. Let's put aside the fact that the US carriers routinely in violation of the regulation and sell real-time location data to Location Based Service (LBS) providers. The end result is that for couple hundreds bucks, anyone can track basically anyone in real-time. And as such...

    Criminal elements can use this LBS service for stalking, robbing the person, his/her house, black-mailing and who knows what else. In addition, it is pretty much a routine for law enforcement to check smartphones being present at the time the crime has been committed in the area of the crime scene. You may have not heard about it, but there had been number of crime suspects had been nailed based on GPS data. Yes, some criminals in the US are not that smart.

    Should the crime in question had been committed within an area, and or vicinity I frequent, it's not hard to see that I can easily be a suspect in the investigation. This may, or may not result in a record that could go against my reputation. This is far fetched, but the possibility is there.

    I am not worried about location based, or other type ads, they can be controlled by different settings. I had not seen any ads yet on my iPhone. On the other hand, I do worry about my privacy and hence the question in my OP. Just wanted to know, if disabling GPS locks out the carrier as well as Apple from tracking my location. And of course, the question of if Apple sells GPS data.

    @Rod...

    Yes, triangulation is the backup to GPS location by now. On the other hand, it is much less accurate than the GPS data, albeit, in rural are it could be very accurate...

  5. #5
    iPhone location data...
    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Have you heard about Google's Sensorvault?

    Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police - The New York Times

    A bit down into article it says:
    Investigators who spoke with The New York Times said they had not sent geofence warrants to companies other than Google, and Apple said it did not have the ability to perform those searches.
    But if you use a Google app, you could still be in Sensorvault.

    As for legality, the article says, in part:
    Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant was required for historical data about a person’s cellphone location over weeks, but the court has not ruled on anything like geofence searches, including a technique that pulls information on all phones registered to a cell tower.
    Jake

  6. #6
    iPhone location data...
    Cr00zng's Avatar
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    Yes, Jake, I did hear about Google's Sensorvault....

    I don't use any of the Google services on my iPhone, or desktops, laptops for that matter. That includes disabling Siri's access to any of the apps, including mail and contacts. For that matter, Siri in itself disabled. Even for my browsing needs, that I don't do frequently, I use either Duckduckgo, or Ghostery browsers. The only iCloud service my iPhone has is the backing up my contact, no other data is backed up to iCloud. It would take too long to re-enter all my contact information manually, if something goes wrong with my iPhone.

    There were couple of reasons why I've settled on iPhone, instead of an Android one. The main reason being, or the driving factor, that my better half hated her Android one and did not want a Windows phone. My reason is the lack of respect for privacy by Google.

    The Apple ecosystem seemed like at the time 3-4 years ego, that it will respect our privacy much more, than the Android ecosystem ever would. The more I learn about the Apple ecosystem, the more I start to question my initial believes about Apple.

    I certainly agree with Apple's statement of "People have a right to privacy". On the other hand, the slogan sounds more and more as an advertisement with empty promises. Especially, when starting to question the effectiveness of privacy controls on Apple devices. Hence my questions about what Apple does with the GPS data and can I disable Apple's access to the location data?

  7. #7
    iPhone location data...
    MacInWin's Avatar
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    I certainly agree with Apple's statement of "People have a right to privacy". On the other hand, the slogan sounds more and more as an advertisement with empty promises. Especially, when starting to question the effectiveness of privacy controls on Apple devices. Hence my questions about what Apple does with the GPS data and can I disable Apple's access to the location data?
    Just curious, do you have any evidence that Apple has access to that data on a routine basis? In the article Apple indicated, as I quoted, that it does not have access to location data in any searchable form. Now they MAY be storing Find My Phone data, but given that they have claimed that they cannot do geofence searches I suspect that Find My Phone data is real-time location and not stored. I don't know that for a fact, but if they did store the data then they would be able to do geofence searching. As for location data, the cell companies keep that data as well, and even with GPS off the tower signals can be used to triangulate to a location for any device in the network. So just HAVING a cell phone exposes your location. I suspect that the police use search warrants at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc, much more often than they would at Apple or even Google.
    Jake

  8. #8
    iPhone location data...
    Cr00zng's Avatar
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    @Jake...

    No, I don't any evidence that Apple has access to that data on a routine basis, there's a difference between getting suspicious and evidence.

    You might be correct that real-time location data is not stored by Apple, albeit that brings up a question. If that's the case, Apple has the capability to contact the device in question and get it's location data. This can be triggered by Apple/iCloud, or various apps on either my, or friends' device for looking up my iPhone's location. Since these apps display the "last known location", it could be periodic reporting by the app, the last apps queried location, or the last query of the device by Apple/iCloud. These are just guesses, not a statement of fact.

    I was just curious how Apple handles my GPS location data, triggered by the article in the OP. If carriers can and will sell location data, Smartphone OEM with root access to the OS, certainly has some capabilities to do the same, if they would want to.

    Apple does collect location data, not necessarily GPS, as Apple explains:

    Apple Q&A on Location Data - Apple

    Yes, this is old new, but I couldn't find an updated version.

    I'll get the collected data for my Apple ID here:

    Data & Privacy

    It'll take a week and yes, I understand that this will not include third-party apps collected data.
    Last edited by Cr00zng; 05-18-2019 at 06:09 PM. Reason: One post twice in the same post

  9. #9
    iPhone location data...
    Cr00zng's Avatar
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    When you insinuate that a company maybe doing something wrong and get the collected data from them about you, the least you can do is analyze the data and share your results.

    Here's an overview that Apple has for my ID:

    apple_report.jpg

    Provided that the received report is correct, that's not much data for the time period I have and Apple ID.

    The report in itself is questionable, since it does not show my current devices and includes devices that I no longer have:

    devices.jpg

    Over all, it does not seem that Apple keeps lot of my data; albeit, I have disabled all Apple related collection that I could, don't use Siri, etc. I'll try getting a report with a different account that utilizes more Apple apps and services.

    On the flip side, the iCloud Contacts are given in .vcf format. It's an awesome backup for your contact...

  10. #10
    iPhone location data...
    MacInWin's Avatar
    Member Since
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    Thanks for posting back. I, too, got all my history from Apple, just as a curiosity, and the only table that has "Registration Timestamp" is the one named "Device Registration History Pre iOS8 and Yosemite." And as one would expect, the devices there are older ones that I no longer have. Is that where your bottom image came from?
    Jake

  11. #11
    iPhone location data...
    Cr00zng's Avatar
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    Yes, Jake... The bottom image is from "Device Registration History Pre iOS8 and Yosemite."

    Keep in mind, that the data does not include third-party apps collected data as it shouldn't; that's beyond Apple control. Albeit, it should have some data about Siri, no? Unless, that's collected by Google since that's the search engine behind Siri...

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