iPhone 4 tracks and stores your location at all times

Worrying hidden iOS file raises more privacy fears

Consolidated.db file stores all of your location data and backs it up to your PC.

Apple's iPhone 4 tracks your location wherever you go and stores the data it in a secret iOS file, a pair of security researchers have today revealed.

The iOS file, named Consolidated.db, stores your longitude and latitude while also giving the data a timestamp, and then backs up that information whenever the iOS device is synced up to a computer.

If someone were able to access that file, which according to researchers Pete Warren and Allasdair Allan isn't too tricky, they would be able to create a visualisation on a map (see right) of the user's exact movements.

Warren, who will present the findings today at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco, says the raises significant privacy fears.

He says: "Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been.

"Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," he added. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this."

Although mobile networks track your location, that data is only used by the police and other certified bodies, and no actual handsets perform this functionality. Google's Latitude offers this as a service, to allow friends to keep track of your movements, but that's an opt-in piece of functionality.

According to a report in the Guardian, Apple has refused to comment on the research, why the file exists and whether there is any way for iPhone owners to disable it.

Link: Guardian