Steve Jobs responds to user email regarding location tracking tool in iOS 4

Apple last week was at the center of controversy following a report from researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden who wrote that iOS 4 maintains a file called consolidated.db that holds data points detailing a user's location via latitude and longitude coordinates accompanied with a timestamp. And now Steve Jobs has responded to a user email on the issue

Apple last week was at the center of controversy following a report from researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden who wrote that iOS 4 maintains a file called consolidated.db that holds data points detailing a user's location via latitude and longitude coordinates accompanied with a timestamp.

Despite the fact that the presence of the consolidated.db file wasn't new, and indeed has been used for months by law enforcement agencies during the course of forensic investigations, user concerns about privacy were naturally brought to the forefront as the file kept location data for months on end. Morover, there were valid concerns that the file itself was unencrypted.

"What makes this issue worse," Allan and Warden wrote last week, "is that the file is unencrypted and unprotected, and it’s on any machine you’ve synched with your iOS device. It can also be easily accessed on the device itself if it falls into the wrong hands. Anybody with access to this file knows where you’ve been over the last year, since iOS 4 was released.

Again, the file is a part of iOS 4 and subsequently affects the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad models.

There's no question that Apple is gathering the data intentionally, and news of this subsequently prompted Senator Al Franken, and other politicians, to contact Apple and inquire why they were collecting the data and what it was being used for.

Apple has yet to issue an official statement on the matter, but Steve Jobs purportedly responded to an email from a MacRumors reader on the topic in the last few days.

The email reads:

Steve,

Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It’s kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don’t track me.

And Jobs' response:

Oh yes they do. We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.

Sent from my iPhone

So in typical Jobs fashion, there's not much to work with here. Jobs simply says that Android also records user location data while intimating that Apple isn't tracking particular users, which while technically true, doesn't really address the issue people have with the tracking tool - that being it's existance and purpose in the first place.

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