Privacy watchdogs are demanding answers from Apple Inc. about why iPhones and iPads are secretly collecting location data on users — records that cellular service providers routinely keep but require a court order to disgorge.
It’s not clear if other smartphones and tablet computers are logging such information on their users. And this week’s revelation that the Apple devices do wasn’t even new — some security experts began warning about the issue a year ago.
But the worry prompted by a report from researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden at a technology conference in Santa Clara, Calif., raises questions about how much privacy you implicitly surrender by carrying around a smartphone and the responsibility of the smartphone makers to protect sensitive data that flows through their devices.
Much of the concern about the iPhone and iPad tracking stems from the fact the computers are logging users’ physical coordinates without users knowing it — and that that information is then stored in an unencrypted form that would be easy for a hacker or a suspicious spouse or a law enforcement officer to find without a warrant.