The Italian Privacy Authority has decided to open an inquiry in order to shed light on the procedure of location-tracking and user location data storing on 3G iPhones and iPads running iOS4.
Two researchers from the technology magazine O’Reilly have recently discovered the existence of a file by name of “consolidated.db” which registers and stores the connections of iPhones and iPads to cell towers.
This file is present on every iPhone, iPad and on any devices synched with them but it may well not be easily accessible to third parties. In fact it is necessary to have physical access to devices or to computers, or alternatively remote access to user accounts in order to open it.
The security and privacy implications are clear. Through the reading of this file it is possible to see every movement each smartphone has made since its set up. In addition to this, the file is easily readable since it has no password or encryption.
The discovery of this file has disconcerted many Internet bloggers including many long-term fans of Apple’s products.
The Italian Privacy Authority has declared its intention to ask Apple for clarifications and to proceed with a number of technical verifications, while also keeping in contact with other European Authorities, which have already started their inquiries into this matter.