Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wants answers. Security researchers today revealed the existence of a file on iPhones and on their computer backups that logs detailed cell phone triangulation data—and has ever since iOS 4 was released last summer. The information is stored unencrypted by default, and is simple to access. That announcement led Franken to fire off a two-page letter (PDF) today, asking nine pointed questions of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The letter concludes with a list of questions.
- Why does Apple collect and compile this location data? Why did Apple choose to initiate tracking this data in its iOS 4 operating system?
- Does Apple collect and compile this location data for laptops?
- How is this data generated? (GPS, cell tower triangulation, Wi-Fi triangulation, etc.)
- How frequently is a user’s location recorded? What triggers the creation of a record of someone’s location?
- How precise is this location data? Can it track the users location to 50 m, 100 m, etc.?
- Why is this data not encrypted? What steps will Apple take to encrypt the data?
- Why were Apple consumers never affirmatively informed of the collection and retention of their location data in this manner? Why did Apple not seek affirmative consent before doing so?
- To whom, if anyone, including Apple, has this data been disclosed? When and why were these disclosures made?