Overheard on CNN.com: This is your life on (iPhone) track
An application called iPhone Tracker maps a person's location with data collected from an iPhone.
April 21st, 2011
05:31 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: This is your life on (iPhone) track

Comment of the Day
"What are you all, secret agents or something? Why are you so concerned about anyone knowing where you are or when? If you're uncomfortable with people knowing where you go, maybe you shouldn't be out at that strip club, or that brothel, or the farm where you sodomize livestock at 3 am."– toomanynames

Report: iPhones secretly track their users’ locations

Where have you been since June? If you were carrying an iPhone or an iPad, a hidden - and unauthorized - tracking file may be able to remind you, according to researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden. They have posted a program that will allow iPhone users to see a map of their movements.

What’s the big deal, some CNN.com readers wondered?

ef84w said, "I found it particularly amusing that the gentleman in New York was so horrified that his travels were being recorded but doesn't seem to be aware that he's probably being captured on a myriad of cameras at almost any minute as he walks or rides through the metropolis."

OriWorkhorse said, "Now AT&T will know exactly where I was when they dropped my call." Eideard said, "Yup, it's a robot plot from Planet Nine. Only the most paranoid will survive the attack."

BrianB1972 said, “Many of the apps, tools, and devices on these products simply could not work if they could not tell your location. You want a GPS? Well, it can tell where you are. There’s your trade off.”

Some readers used the tracking program themselves and reported their findings. Guest said, "If you can extrapolate any data from that information, you are one smart cookie. I used the program to see what it showed of my movements. It only recorded every few days and because of the triangulation it is not even close to the actual location. The house I go to every day did not show up once on the map in six months, probably because there is no cell tower close to my house. The nearest point was 1/4 mile away. This information is useless. "

noname1969 said, "That program must only work in big cities because I tried it and it showed me in places all over the state on one day... places I've never visited."

That inaccuracy could be a problem. TathegBob said, "Since the local police and ICE can take your phone and search it, I hope that all of you can remember why you were at any given location, It would be horrible to be accused of a crime that happened near any check-in points just because your phone logged in at that time."

Clay04 said, "This is not about the government keeping track of you. It is about a company keeping track of your whereabouts without your knowledge. If you don't care about your privacy then you have already drunk the Kool-Aid."

But not everyone thought it was a bad idea. pootypoo asked, "I wonder if they tracked the guy that put glue on the Wal-Mart toilet seat?"

Freed hiker: Terry Jones endangers us all

Teacher Sarah Shourd was imprisoned by the Iranian government for allegedly spying while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border along with her fiancé and friend. She warns that pastor Terry Jones will endanger American lives by his planned protest outside the largest mosque in North America. Shourd was released last year, but her fiance, Shane Bauer, and friend Josh Fattal remain imprisoned.

Most CNN.com readers said the real blame lay with the hikers’ lack of judgment.

jrg75 said, "Jones is a fool, no doubt, but how can someone who goes hiking in Iraq blame Jones for endangering people such as herself? Isn't this a bit like driving around with a blindfold on, then complaining about all the drunk drivers on the road?"

dca123 said, "Terry and Sarah and her fellow hikers are all loons. None of them has any common sense whatsoever. Only an idiot would go hiking in such an unstable region of the world. Only another kind of idiot would think that he was making a significant political statement by burning a Koran. To hell with all of them. "

Most suggested that Americans shouldn’t let fear of Muslim reaction to Terry Jones destroy the right to freedom of speech.

Trek7553 said, "I am completely against the message of hate that Terry Jones is proclaiming. I hope that he chooses to stop, but I also hope that no one forces him to stop. It will be a sad day when we allow terrorists in another part of the world to curtail free speech in our own country."

LordWorld said, "The U.S. tolerates idiots like Terry Jones, unlike most Muslim countries. Do we change our belief in freedom to accommodate their intolerance? Sarah has my sympathy, but the problem is not here, but elsewhere. While Terry Jones may be inflammatory, it is only because those inflamed choose to view his acts as representative rather the acts of a madman. The shame falls on them."

dmanpic said, "Sarah, your ignorance of crossing into the border of a country that considers us the 'Great Satan' and wants to destroy us is beyond puzzling. As a Christian, I think Terry Jones is a crazy son of a gun and needs to stop his foolishness. As an American, we live by our Constitution, not extremists."

OliverHolz said, "She is trying to get her friends released from an Islamic republic and will write anything to help them."

Richard Quest: Why the royal wedding matters

Writer Richard Quest described how his memories and identity as a British citizen were inextricably tied to the British royal family. But most CNN.com readers remained uncharmed by the upcoming wedding.

twiddly said, "Such a ridiculous tradition and a scandalous waste of money. It continues the lie that somehow a person is better just because of who their parents are, or who they marry.” sonicbender agreed, "Seriously! We should demand a referendum. Surely most of their fans have died off by now...."

normal45 said, "People without purpose. It’s simply good entertainment really." bluegorilla said, "Go away. Get married already and go away. This is the biggest waste of time and money."

But there were still some who spoke up for the monarchy and their traditions. schnuptz said, "Oh come on now...who doesn’t love a wedding?"

BeeMelon90 said, "It costs the British taxpayer only 69p a year to fund the monarchy, and most British don't mind paying that. Also, thanks to them, we have a boosted tourist industry. They also promote British industries around the world and devote time and resources to charities such as the Prince’s Trust, which provides young people the money to start their own businesses. I know they are an outdated institution but I think we're allowed a little bit of patriotism."

MatildaCdn said, "According to The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, the wedding is expected to generate up to £1 billion in extra tourist revenues and sales of memorabilia. That's actually $1.5 billion in dollars."

DEELVAHO said, "Oh pleaseeeee, let's admit it, if we got an invitation we'd go."

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments were edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. glj

    I just pulled up the setting on my iPhone, and sure enough there is an option there called Location Services. Guess what – you can turn it on or turn it off. So you don't want them tracking you, TURN IT OFF.

    April 22, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • WhatKindOfStupidAreYou

      Congratulations, you just deactivated any apps that use your GPS chip. But it didn't stop the logging file which uses cell tower triangulation. The only way to really deactivate it is to jailbreak and install an app that constantly deletes the file.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. MTT

    Everyone realizes that no one has access to that information except the owner of the phone... right?

    April 22, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      And anyone with access to whichever computer you link with the Iphone. Like your work computer? You boss can and should track the file to see where people are during the workday. Even if it is a personal phone if you link to your work computer that file just became property of the company you work for...get it?

      April 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mario

    @banasy, @glj this is not GPS or location services it is cell triangulation.

    The data is never transmitted off the phone and is only synced to a persons device when they sync with iTunes. It is your decision to encrypt this information when you do iTunes backups. If someone actually steals your phone, there is more sensitive data then inaccurate cell triangulation data, such as your contacts, mail, phone records, text message records. This really is not an issue and is over-sensationalized. This data is only suppose to be recent locations, someone just probably forgot to write the code that deletes old information from the database. In any case, Apple's privacy policy allows them to collect location data if they wanted to, and it has been in their privacy policy for a long time. applle.com/privacy

    April 22, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Mario

      * apple.com/privacy

      April 22, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      and who knew all this? Just wasn't a topic of discussion when I purchased my phone. Guessed I missed it in the fine print of the Owner's manual.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kamui

    For all we know its a 3rd party app, like foursquare or angry birds (we've heard this one before) thats logging all this info. Because it seems very RANDOM on the pings. And if your paranoid like that, TURN OFF Location Services!

    April 22, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • WhatKindOfStupidAreYou

      Perhaps you should understand the issue before you pour more useless drivel out of your mouth hole. This is not a 3rd party app issue. It's very clearly linked to the operating system itself. If you don't understand what's going on, please feel free to STFU rather than add confusion to the discussion.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      It is not coming from location services. It is coming from the same method that cell phone companies have used for years to locate the phone in and among all their towers. You cannot just "turn it off".

      April 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cat

    My hubby uses IPhone for medical profession. The Blackberry is useless in updating info. He can also track locations and use the outer space mode.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. WhatKindOfStupidAreYou

    Wow, the Apple comments chose are pretty much all from clueless fools. There's that CNN/Apple marketing machine at work again. Hopefully CNN will be found just as liable when the lawsuit happens.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    I'm just surprised how many people actually believe that privacy exists. We live in a highly technoloigcal world where privacy is simply not an option anymore.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. thebeakman

    Why don't one of you slick developers write an app that writes random location data to this file all the time? That will certainly render it useless.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. tony

    The issue for me isn't that the iPhone tracks you. Every phone company tracks your movements (and in turn sells that data to marketers). What is surprising to me is that, with the iPhone, this information is available locally on the handset. I would think this information would be collected and stored on a carrier's internal network and there would be safeguards (a firewall or other network security provisions) in place to make sure that info is not available to the general public. With the iPhone this info is available to anyone who can access your cell phone or through any computer you sync with. I don't know if this only applies to the iPhone or if other phones store this info on the handset, but it is a scary thought. Imagine you're a woman in a relationship with an abusive man, and you are trying to get away from him. If he got ahold of your iPhone or a computer you synced with he would see everywhere you've been and use that to hunt you down.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. nur amabo nur

    "If your not a criminal you have nothing to worry about" since your not a criminal you qualify for the rfid implant and bar code tattoo. Also since we want to keep you safe report to fema camp 13. That's where you will get your 40 virgins or sports on tv 24/7. Absolute paradise ! Sorry no dodge ball or tag allowed.

    April 22, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Fred Clouse

    There are helpful programs such as Mobile Spy that will help me retrieve tracked data of my iPhone on an online database, so i can locate my phone in the event it is lost or stolen.

    April 22, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    So many people miss the point. It is not about where you have been, not about maybe you shouldn't go places if you are worried someone might find out. It is ALL about companies that track our every move without permission. People would be irate if the government was doing this, then act like no big deal that big business is monitoring your every move. It is about another layer of freedom and rights eroding away in this country and too many people not given a da**n. We used to live in a free society. Not anymore. You want to be on a website – give up every personal shred of information you have to access please.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Well said Brian. This is about personal freedom and a business monitoring the activity of an individual (whether it be location tracking, internet usage, tv viewing, etc.) and using it (for what?). Individuals give business information in return for services, but it should only be provided with informed consent from the individual (we need to know what we are giving for what we are getting). The comment above "maybe you shouldn't be doing it" is extremely concerning. Imagine living a life where others have access to your every move (where you shopped, what you ate, where you went, what shows you watched, where you travel, where you web browse) and then could interpret and use that information however they want (and you may or may not even know it is happening). So we all look over our shoulders wondering who is watching and what they are doing with the information just so we can have an app that tells us where to get coffee! Wonderful!

      May 12, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. Brian

    Oh and for my co-workers who linked their IPhone to their work computer? Yes your boss does have a right to view that file even though it is your personal phone. The file resides on a work- owned computer. Hello????

    April 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cesar

    She says she is a loyal friend Ha! What a crock.

    April 23, 2011 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
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