London – U.K. security researchers have discovered that Apple’s (NASD: AAPL) iPhone and 3G iPad track users’ locations in a secret file, then transfers the data to the user’s computer and forwards it on when a user purchases a new Apple device, the Guardian reported. The file includes a history of a user’s latitude and longitude, along with timestamps — but the researchers say the information does not appear to be transmitted to Apple.
“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,” Pete Warden, one of the researchers, told the Guardian.
The file could potentially be accessed by someone who “jailbreaks” an iPhone, or by someone with access to an iPhone owner’s computer.
Apple declined comment to the Guardian when asked about why such a file is created or whether it can be disabled.
The Guardian noted that Apple’s terms for its iTunes application include a clause about collecting “the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device,” which may be used “by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services.”