News by Michael Oryl on Tuesday May 10, 2011.
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Apple and Google appeared today before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to explain their positions on the collection of smartphone user location data.
Google noted that all location data collection on its Android smartphone platform is strictly opt-in only. The company also noted that it supports the creation of new, comprehensive privacy legislation, and that it is asking government to update its aging privacy laws, pointing out personal data stored on a remote server is not protected by the 4th ammendment in the same way that data found on a person's home desk is. The 4th ammendment protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable search and siezure.
Apple also took the time to explain what is happening with the collection of location data on its iOS devices, as was widely reported. Apple says that it uses crowd sourcing from millions of customers to build a database of cell phone towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. The company also says that the location data in the "Consolidated.db" database on iOS devices is not the location of the device itself, but rather that of cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, which seems suspect to us here at MobileBurn.com.
Referring directly to the notorius Consolidated.db file on iOS devices, Apple says that it has no direct access to the data it contains. Data was still being collected in that file even when the user had disabled location tracking, but Apple claimed that this was a bug and issued an iOS update last week that fixed it. Apple also noted that the next iOS update will ensure that the data contained within the Consolidated.db file is encrypted.