So we weren’t really planning to bother weighing in on The Great Location Debate, since although the app and its code to show where you’ve been are mildly interesting they’re not likely to be of any great future use, and really we see a conversation with any of the concerned Chicken Littles going like this:
TROLL: So, let us get this straight: you carry around constantly on your person a radio station whose intrinsic function is to ensure that your location and your conversations are continuously broadcast to the world, and this doesn’t make you bat an eyelash at the privacy implications; but you find out it looks like said radio station is keeping some notes, and that makes you freak out.
DRAMA QUEEN: APPLE EEEEEVIL! SUE! SUE! SUE!
TROLL: Right then. We’ll just be on our way looking for how to get back to Sane Person Land now.
(UPDATE: It’s not just iPhone users that find their devices working as designed to be actionable. Heh.)
Actually, to be perfectly honest our immediate reaction to the very first we heard of this (h/t: @mattgemell) was “The phone can let us know where on earth we were last night? That’s awesome!” However, we recognize that the number of people who tend to find themselves presented with utterly unfathomable mysteries along the lines of “Where did we go and what on earth happened last night that we have a broken arm this morning?” and would therefore find actual location tracking a valuable service is probably quite low. As most people do not go out and relax quite as hard as trolls have a way of doing.
Any-ways, for the benefit of any of you who might find this a concern, or need to deal with someone who finds this a concern, Oliver Drobnik has posted what looks good enough to serve as the definitive statement on this brouhaha:
So there you go then. Personally, we find Apple’s statement reasonable and perfectly believable; it fits just fine with the “history” our phone has of where it’s been jaunting around to since the iOS 4 upgrade:
Let us zoom in on Central America in particular:
And most specifically on the area formerly known as the Netherland Antilles. Of which we were only on Bonaire diving with sea turtles (pretty nifty, that), not Curaçao. Although we’re sure it’s a very nice place too, all our Curaçaoan readers, we’ll catch you next time.
As ought to be utterly evident even if you weren’t along with the phone as it was out walkies collecting this data, there is nothing resembling serious location tracking going on here. What you’re seeing is, well, perfectly consistent with what Apple says this location database is. And furthermore points out nicely that they apparently do not have a good stock of Central American data at all … so if you’re still all in a kerfluffle about this, hey you know where to move to now, pretty much anywhere between dots on that middle map!
Hey, want to do some good with that data?
We would like to combine as many of these log files as possible, create an open database of wifi and cell networks and thus visualize how these networks are distributed all over the world.
So please contribute your iPhone log files and help us to create an open wifi und cell database.
You can find out more on this project on our blog.
Sounds like a project worth supporting!
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