A Revealing Bite of the Apple

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

A Revealing Bite of the Apple

Apple faces new scrutiny over the hidden application that stores information about where its phones go every day. Perhaps, I am the only one that gets it but Apple was not trying to track the user, rather some genius in the company wanted to know the whereabouts of the phone, the user was just incidental. The real question is why develop an application that keeps an eye on the iPhone but then doesn’t transfer the information back to, well, that genius. Moreover, while Apple users, politicians, and Apple are paying attention to all of the hoopla now, where was the indignation when this was first reported? I suspect it was because the first person to publish information about this iPhone tracking application was a Frenchman. And we all know that the French are better lovers than investigators, remember Jacques Clouseau and the Pink Panther?

Moving on, last year a Frenchman by the name of Paul Corbis noticed that the iPhone saved the location of every cell phone tower it pinged. It saves the longitude, latitude and time of each and every pinging event. However, it seemed no one cared including Apple. We so wrong the French. It wasn’t until a pair of British developers, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, created an application to visually present the information that the world noticed what our genius at Apple had done. You, too, can download the iPhone Tracker, to see where your iPhone has been. Awesome!

But now the spoil sports have arrived. Our once funny, and now serious, Senator Al Franken has asked Apple to articulate its rationale for using an iPhone to track its users. Senator Franken sent a letter to Steve Jobs asking him to respond to this privacy violation. Perhaps, Al needs to speak with his staff again because I think Steve is still on a medical leave of absence and, clearly, a letter like this is not going to make his day. Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, will have the responsibility of responding to Al’s letter and possibly the FCC. I believe Cook’s only defense is to tell us that we have it all wrong. No one wanted to track the users, just the everyday trials or trails of the iPhones around the world.

Alright, perhaps I make light of this because I don’t own an iPhone. However, for those of you that have read this blog for the past year or so, you know that I am very concerned about privacy. It will be interesting to read Apple’s response to the nine questions posed by Senator Franken. But the real question is if a genius in Apple could do this, what is the genius doing at other companies developing applications for our smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices? I believe in a right to privacy. I believe that right extends to companies and governments. I know that both of these entities violate our right to privacy on a regular basis. When they are caught, we should not be forgiving and there should be penalties.

This bite of the Apple revealed a worm.

See you on Monday. Have a great weekend and keep an eye on your iPhone.

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