Apple Spies on iPhone Users, Hackers Claim

Illustration for article titled Apple Spies on iPhone Users, Hackers Claim

Put on your tinfoil hats, because according to the findings of XianLi, one of the members of Hackint0sh, the iPhone spies on you. The evidence in the code shows that the Stocks and Weather applications send your IMEI number—the unique number that identifies your iPhone and is tied to your personal information—to Apple, along with the nature of the information you are looking at:

Illustration for article titled Apple Spies on iPhone Users, Hackers Claim

While there's no evidence that Apple actually uses this information for any purpose, good or evil, the code shows that every time you try to access detailed information on whatever stock, your IMEI will be sent embedded in the URL. This could be cross-referenced with IP location and the information in Apple or its partner's databases to gather extremely valuable data for marketing purposes.

But does it really matter that Apple—or any other smartphone or computer manufacturer—could know that you are are looking for the latest news on Google's stock or the weather in the Maldives?

If confirmed some will scream and others won't care. After all, Google stores information on your web usage and most people don't give it a second thought. While this is something that could probably change with the gPhone, as the device's potential as an advertising platform makes the whole unique identification of users even a sweeter deal, at this point Google data gathering is not necessarily tied to any personal information, so the information is less of a perceived "hazard" to your privacy.

Tying IMEI and browsing information is also different to cookies: When you access a website anonymously and they store a cookie in your browser, this is not tied to any personal information. Moreover, you can delete the cookie in your computer or avoid them using your browser privacy options. The IMEI, however, is a solid unique personal identifier, which makes the whole thing a little bit disturbing. More importantly, there's no op-out and Apple covers its back with the iPhone's license, as readers have pointed already in the comments.

Do you think Apple should provide with a privacy option or do you think that, once you agree to the license, it is okay for them to harvest this information? [<a href="



The problem is not that Apple is doing it. The problem is that they did not come out and tell everyone they are doing it. Having a general statement that 'we can' is not the same was 'we are', and Apple really should know better.

That said, if you already bought a device that (supposedly) requires service with AT&T, clearly you are a person that is not concerned about these sorts of ethics.