Wednesday at Where 2.0, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden announced they had discovered Apple was collecting location data from a hidden file on iPhones and iPads. It's not a new development; law enforcement can and has tapped into it.
Evidence from the location tracking database stored on iPhones "has been used in actual criminal investigations and yes, it's led to convictions," said Alex Levinson, a Rochester Institute of Technology researcher and technical lead for iOS forensics consultant Katana Forensics.
Though forensics specialists have yet to find the proverbial "smoking gun" in an iPhone's consolidated.db file (where the location data is stored), they have found helpful information, the story says.
Last year when lawmakers asked Apple why it maintained such data on its devices, the company explained that the data was essential to providing MobileMe and other location-based services. But after this week's revelation, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wants specific answers to several questions, including "Why isn't this data encrypted?" according to GigaOM. He also wants to know how the data is collected.
The same questions are of concern to privacy advocates, of course. European regulators are also interested in Apple's answers, The New York Times reports. But as of yet, Apple has remained silent on the issue.