iPhone Location Tracking Leads to Privacy Lawsuit

Apple has been hit with a lawsuit in Florida alleging the company is violating iPhone user’s privacy and committing computer fraud. The case came in response to news that the iPhone maintains a time stamped location log, and that data is also stored on user’s computers.

The lawsuit was filed in Federal court in Tampa Florida on April 25 by two customers who claimed Apple was tracking iPhone owner’s movements without consent, according to Bloomberg.

iPhone privacy lawsuitApple faces lawsuit over iPhone location tracking

The case was filed after word that the iPhone and iPad with 3G support maintains an unencrypted log file showing where users are based on cell tower triangulation. That file is transferred to user’s computers during the sync process with iTunes and is maintained as part of the device’s backup file collection.

Location logging has been active in the iPhone and 3G iPad since the release of iOS 4 last June, which means some users have nearly a year’s worth of data stored away.

Investigations into location logging by security analysts seemed to indicate that the iPhone and iPad data file isn’t transmitted to Apple. Android OS, however, is apparently logging user locations ever few seconds and transmitting that information to Google more than once an hour.

Concerns over what Apple does with that data led Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to send a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking for clarification on why the data is stored and exactly what it is used for. He followed up by scheduling a Senate hearing on the subject for early May where he expects both Apple and Google to explain their location tracking and privacy policies.

Apple has not commented on the Florida lawsuit, or the May 10 Senate hearing.