Track is wack

Apr 272011
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

Oooooh em geeee, the cell phone makers know where you are at all times! How often you go to the supermarket, how often you go to campus! The Redcoats are coming! Quick! One if by land, two if by sea….

Not that it matters; the data in your phone has already been tracked if you’re coming by land or by sea. Gosh, the American Revolution would have progressed differently with cell phones. But, we digress.

Last week, the national spotlight turned to the cell phone industry when it was widely published that iOS phones keep a file with everywhere you’ve been, according to the GPS function of the phone.

Privacy advocates are now up in arms, and we can only assume this to mean one thing: The majority of Americans are secret agents and spies from Russia, and now their cover might be blown. Because seriously, why else would you be so upset over Big Brother knowing your preference in local laundry mats?

The best part is that all these soccer-mom spies out there probably already have about 10 apps on their phones that track their location. Apps like Shazam, Redbox, Flixster, Weather Channel and Facebook all have records of your location to improve the usability of the app.

They give you the ability to say no but some, if not all, of their functionality would be lost if you declined. Considering each has been downloaded millions of times, odds are you’ve already given up your location without even a second thought. For all you Android users smirking right now, thinking “the man” doesn’t have his eye on you, think twice –– the identical file has been uprooted on your phone as well. To be fair, it’s slightly harder to access than the iOS file.

If any of you out there with amnesia problems are curious as to where you’ve been lately, there’s a slew of programs out there that will load the location file to your screen, overlaid on Google Maps and show you your travels.

The tags appear to be sporadic and possibly based more on cell tower triangulation than actual GPS, but it’s still pretty accurate.
Next time you’re near your significant others’ computer, why not load it up there as well? One week before finals is always a great time to discover your love has been cheating on you!

Although we aren’t really privacy nuts, for those of you who are counting down the days till Skynet takes over there is the option to encrypt your phone’s backup on the computer. By selecting this in iTunes your location will be kept private from peering eyes –– on your computer.

  • Breaking News** (not often you get to hear that in a print paper eh?) After we wrote this on Monday, Apple released a statement acknowledging the “tracking.”

From the press release: “The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than 100 miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.”

Apple also claims that the data transmitted back to headquarters is not tied to you as an individual and that, in an upcoming software update, they will no longer back up the data to your computer, so you don’t have to worry about encrypting it yourself as mentioned above.

If you are still anxious to use the programs mentioned above for snooping, you’d better do it before Apple’s system update.

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer’s iPhones say they’ve been at the ‘Skeller every day for months! What, that can’t be right … they sure don’t remember being there. Send comments and questions to

 Posted by at 5:34 pm

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