Privacy-conscious iPhone and iPad users beware: Big Brother is watching. The Los Angeles Times reports that Apple’s mobile devices are secretly keeping track of where users have been by logging and storing a detailed record of their geographic location in a hidden system file. According to the two security researchers who discovered the file, the data are easily accessible and can be used to build an incredibly precise portrait of a user’s movements over time, stretching back months and even years. They’ve even made an application that does just that (Mac users only). –YL

Los Angeles Times:

The data are in an unprotected file embedded in the phone and tablet computer, the researchers said Wednesday, allowing hackers who pick up a lost iPhone or iPad access to the location history with relative ease.

The discovery comes as technology companies are coming under increasing scrutiny for the ways in which they collect, store and share personal information gleaned from consumers’ use of digital devices.

Apple, Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., three of the most popular consumer technology companies, have attracted intense scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates.

Illustrating the data in dramatic, understandable form, security researchers Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan released a software program Wednesday that allows iPhone and iPad users to download and plot their location histories onto an interactive map, showing their trail over time.

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