Thought for the month
“The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
Thomas Huxley, Scientist (1825-95).
Saturday, 7 May 2011
Granny Smith the stalker?
I do like a good conspiracy theory. Whilst not quite in the Roswell UFO or JFK assassination category, Apple has recently been in the news. Privacy concerns erupted when security researchers said a file found on PCs linked to iPhones, allowed them to create maps of the phones' movements for up to a year. "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone," the company said in a statement last week. "Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so." Even Steve Jobs, who is on medical leave, was used to defend the iPhone's use of location data and stressed that it had never tracked the movements of its customers. Unfortunately the conspiracy theorists were encouraged as Apple did acknowledged that iPhones keep a database of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers. That information can then be used to help calculate location for applications such as maps. The company implied that the privacy concerns raised by that file were partly based on a misunderstanding. But it also said that a software error was the reason the files are storing up to a year's worth of information and that it would fix that issue and others in a few weeks. Apple's reaction is reminiscent of its response last year to reports that the iPhone suffered from signal loss when held a certain way. They stayed quiet for a week, then denied there was a hardware problem but said it would fix how the iPhone displayed its signal bars. Two weeks later, it offered free protective cases that insulated the antenna, mitigating the signal loss. It still denied the design was flawed. The phone's appeal stayed intact.