Dec 202010
 
 December 20, 2010  Online, Surveillance

Lex Friedman of Macworld responds to a recent Wall Street Journal piece on how apps are sharing personal data:

Before you toss your iPhone in the toilet and switch to an off-the-grid life, take solace in the fact that Macworld contributor and iOS developer Marco Tabini says that such concerns are probably overblown, relying on a somewhat broad definition of “location.” Tabini says that Pumpkin Maker doesn’t seem to be using the iOS’s Location Services, meaning that it was likely trying to determine your location via your IP address. That’s a notoriously imprecise way to get a device’s location—especially when compared to, say, GPS—which doesn’t violate Apple’s App Store policies, and happens on the Web every single day. (Take a look at this site to see where one of these services pinpoints your location based on your IP.)

The true significance of the Journal’s supposed exposé seems less sensational than the piece’s tone would indicate. Basically, these apps are sharing the same kind of data as nearly every Website you’ve ever used. Apps can’t share your gender unless you tell them your gender (or unless they make sweeping generalizations based on the number of Justin Bieber-centric playlists you have). Of course, on the Web, you can trash your browser’s cookies to make it somewhat tougher for advertisers to track you, though that tactic is hardly foolproof: the next time you log back in, the Website’s advertisers will know all about you again.

Read more on Network World.