It seems as if the world has gone "law-suit happy" sometimes. Last week, there was a report that a class-action lawsuit was being filed against Apple because the iPhone tracks the location of its users without their permission. Then, shortly afterward, Steve jobs emailed the following in response to a MacRumors user's email question.Q: Steve,
Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? Itís kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They donít track me.
A: Oh yes they do. We donít track anyone. The info circulating around is false.
Sent from my iPhone
Further reports from The Wall Street Journal indicate that his statement is not true, and that not only does the iPhone track location data, it even does it when you have location services turned off, unlike Android. Several government agencies around the world including French, German, Italian and North Korean privacy regulators began investigations and found that Appleís devices do track and store data about the movements of iPhone and iPad users, and are investigating further.
After that, an uproar arose on the internet that Google tracks location data as well. Google responded with the following, "Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user," the Mountain View based company said that in theory, it is possible for a third party to grab the data and use it to identify a specific person. Also, third party reports indicate that, "while Android has been shown to also gather location information, the database is limited to a much smaller list of entries and is regularly wiped by the system."
However, this has not stopped two Android phone users in Michigan from also filing a class-action lawsuit against Google for $50 Million dollars in damages, and an order for Google to cease location tracking, because they feel their privacy has been breached.
Now, both companies are facing scrutiny from consumers and lawmakers over the collection of data on smart phones. Both Google and Apple have agreed to testify at a May 10 Senate hearing about consumer privacy on mobile devices.
In the mean-time, the rest of us on the forums can roll our eyes, because we knew about this stuff a long time ago, and realize that there isn't much to it. This location tracking is a feature designed for users and can be disabled, at least for Android users. And, even if it can't... It's not some vast conspiracy for Apple or Google to become Big Brother. It's just big companies giving people the features that they want in the only way they can right now. It's ironic how they are in the same boat though. Share your thoughts... and groans...
Source: Bloomberg 1 and Bloomberg 2 and SlashGear and BGR and WSJ