by David Streitfeld and Edward Wyatt, New York Times, April 15, 2012
One of the most audacious projects ever to come out of Google was the plan to photograph and map the inhabited world, one block at a time. … The Federal Communications Commission censured Google for obstructing an inquiry into the Street View project, which had collected Internet communications from potentially millions of unknowing households as specially equipped cars drove slowly by. But the investigation, described in an interim report, was left unresolved because a critical participant, the Google engineer in charge of the project, cited his Fifth Amendment right and declined to talk. …
For the full text of the article, visit F.C.C.’s Google Case Leaves Unanswered Questions – NYTimes.com.
- Google hit with $25K fine, but street view data collection not illegal (computerworld.co.nz)
- Google Street View car case closed with FCC $25,000 fine (slashgear.com)
- Google Fined $25,000 By FCC For Impeding Street View Investigation (techweekeurope.co.uk)
by David Kravets, Wired News Blog, July 18, 2011
A federal judge sided with Google on Monday, granting the search giant the right to appeal his ruling that packet-sniffing on non-password-protected Wi-Fi networks is illegal wiretapping.The decision by U.S. District Judge James Ware tentatively sets aside his June 29 ruling in nearly a dozen combined lawsuits seeking damages from Google for eavesdropping on open, unencrypted Wi-Fi networks from its Street View mapping cars. The vehicles, which rolled through neighborhoods across the country, were equipped with Wi-Fi–sniffing hardware to record the names and MAC addresses of routers to improve Google location-specific services. But the cars also secretly gathered snippets of Americans’ data. …
For full text of the article, visit Judge Grants Google ‘Street View’ Wiretap Appeal | Threat Level | Wired.com.
SAN FRANCISCO–If you have Wi-Fi turned on, the previous whereabouts of your computer or mobile device may be visible on the Web for anyone to see. Google publishes the estimated location of millions of iPhones, laptops, and other devices with Wi-Fi connections, a practice that represents the latest twist in a series of revelations this year about wireless devices and privacy, CNET has learned. … Only Google and Skyhook Wireless, however, make their location databases linking hardware IDs to street addresses publicly available on the Internet, which raises novel privacy concerns when the IDs they’re tracking are mobile. If someone knows your hardware ID, he may be able to find a physical address that the companies associate with you–even if you never intended it to become public. …
For full text of the article, Exclusive: Google’s Web mapping can track your phone | Privacy Inc. – CNET News.
- Exclusive: Google’s Web mapping can track your phone (news.cnet.com)
- Google web mapping can track your phone (theinformativereport.com)
Apple Lied: Filed Patent for Mobile Device Tracking, Infosec Island, Friday, April 29, 2011
Apple’s claim that the geolocation tracking of its customers via a stealth file maintained in devices running the iOS operating system are, well, “patently” false. … Apple filed for a patent in September of 2009 titled “Location Histories for Location Aware Devices” with the intent to develop services based around the company’s ability to locate and track mobile devices running the iOS operating system. The abstract of the patent reads as follows:
“A location aware mobile device can include a baseband processor for communicating with one or more communication networks, such as a cellular network or WiFi network. In some implementations, the baseband processor can collect network information (e.g., transmitter IDs) over time. Upon request by a user or application, the network information can be translated to estimated position coordinates (e.g., latitude, longitude, altitude) of the location aware device for display on a map view or for other purposes. A user or application can query the location history database with a timestamp or other query to retrieve all or part of the location history for display in a map view.” …
For full text of the article, via Apple Lied: Filed Patent for Mobile Device Tracking.
Apple uses GPS, Wi-Fi, and cell towers to get (and map) location data
by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld.com Apr 28, 2011 10:00 am
iPhone users’ experience with GPS is so quick, so instant-on, that Apple’s Wednesday response about location tracking on iOS might almost seem baffling: “Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites.” Several minutes? Doesn’t my iPhone take just seconds to figure out where I am?
For full article via How the iPhone knows where you are | Phones | Macworld.
- GPS, Wi-Fi: How your iPhone knows where you are (macworld.com)
- Apple blames bugs for iPhone tracking scandal, software fix coming soon (venturebeat.com)
- Apple Denies Tracking Users, Promises Software Fix (pcworld.com)
by Paul A Zandbergen, Department of Geography. University of New Mexico
Abstract: The 3G iPhone was the ﬁrst consumer device to provide a seamless integration of three positioning technologies: Assisted GPS (A-GPS), WiFi positioning and cellular network positioning. This study presents an evaluation of the accuracy of locations obtained using these three positioning modes on the 3G iPhone. A-GPS locations were validated using surveyed benchmarks and compared to a traditional low-cost GPS receiver running simultaneously. WiFi and cellular positions for indoor locations were validated using high resolution orthophotography. Results indicate that A-GPS locations obtained using the 3G iPhone are much less accurate than those from regular autonomous GPS units (average median error of 8 m for ten 20-minute ﬁeld tests) but appear sufficient for most Location Based Services (LBS). WiFi locations using the 3G iPhone are much less accurate (median error of 74 m for 58 observations) and fail to meet the published accuracy specifications. Positional errors in WiFi also reveal erratic spatial patterns resulting from the design of the calibration effort underlying the WiFi positioning system. Cellular positioning using the 3G iPhone is the least accurate positioning method (median error of 600 m for 64 observations), consistent with previous studies. Pros and cons of the three positioning technologies are presented in terms of coverage, accuracy and reliability, followed by a discussion of the implications for LBS using the 3G iPhone and similar mobile devices.
Zandbergen, Paul A. 2009. Accuracy of iPhone Locations: A Comparison of Assisted GPS, WiFi and Cellular Positioning. Transactions in GIS, 13(s1): 5-26
For full text of the article, click here.
- Android phones keep location cache, too, but it’s harder to access (arstechnica.com)
- Why Apple Tracks You Via iPhone: It’s Not Why You Think (pcworld.com)
By Julia Angwin and Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Wall Street Journal, April 22, 20111
Apple Inc.’s iPhones and Google Inc.‘s Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to Apple and Google, respectively, according to data and documents analyzed by The Wall Street Journal—intensifying concerns over privacy and the widening trade in personal data.Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s locations via their cellphones. … In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.
For full text of the article, visit Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Androids Send Cellphone Location – WSJ.com.
- Own an Android? An iPhone? Google & Apple may be tracking you. (lawafterthebar.wordpress.com)
- Apple, Google tap phone location data: report (msnbc.msn.com)
- Apple, Google Receive Phone Users’ Locations (online.wsj.com)