Since the revelation that Apple was tracking its customers movements on Wednesday, there has been much speculation on just why the company might be interested in the movements of its customers. But the iPhone isn’t the only thing tracking the movements of its users. In today’s society it’s exceedingly difficult to go anywhere without someone tracking where you’ve been.
Apple made the revelation that the iPhone, iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, the iPad, and the iPhone 4 are not only collecting information on the whereabouts of its customers, and collecting that information. And it’s not just these models that track your location at any given moment. The official story is tracking for advertising purposes, and to better understand its consumer base. But several iPhone users have voiced concern over the lack of encryption of the information. Essentially anyone can access your whereabouts and where you’ve been in real life if you use a number of devices or services.
ATMs around the world also collect information on where and when you withdraw money from your account. That information can be accessed by banks and anyone with access to their files, including photographic confirmation taken of the scene of the transaction. This information is used primarily as a theft deterrent, but the same concerns have been voiced over their use for years. But avoiding ATMs is not enough to disappear. Credit Cards used at locations will provide information to several different parties.
And it’s not just secret accidental tracking that’s going on. A number of services now call for people to “check in” at locations and put that information on a database where they can be picked up by anyone on a social networking service.
Even using a computer betrays your location if using a number of programs including Snow Leopard and Safari. So why is the iPhone that much scarier than any number of other services tracking our movements? It might be the way it translates every movement into an easy to read map that shows your phone’s data in real time. It might be our addiction to the services companies like Apple provide. Or it might be the fact that since the Wednesday announcement there has been no further information from the company other than assurances they will protect users’ privacy.
It seems everyone is watching these days. That glance over your shoulder might not show a corporate executive lurking in the shadows peering over a newspaper at you, but you may not be able to see the real tracker looking at you from hundreds of miles away or even weeks later when the information is compiled. In the end it boils down to a matter of trust. Who do you trust? And with what information? The whole thing is enough to make even George Orwell spin in his grave.
And that’s nothing to say about the ability of cell phones to turn on at any moment to listen to your conversations – even when they’re turned off.