Apple Talk: Why iPhone privacy blunder matters

A rare sight, indeed: Apple wrong-footed...

White iPhone 4

The row over iPhone location data hardly helps Apple's carefully cultivated image as a champion of privacyPhoto: Apple

The row over exactly what your iPhone records about your travels has put smartphone privacy back in the spotlight, says Seb Janacek.

Researchers have found that the iPhone is storing location information, leading to concerns that it could be possible to track someone's movements from the data on their phone.

Apple has made itself a champion of privacy in recent times, which made this story even worse - although personally, I thought it was kind of cool to be able to work out where I was in the second week of July last year.

However, location-based data is becoming a valuable commodity for marketers and also for some governments, so consumers are becoming increasingly jittery about how their personal data is being used.

Apple made a big noise a few years ago about the gravity with which it deals with its users' personal data. Let's rewind a year to the launch of the iPhone 4 in June 2010.

Scott Forstall, one of the brightest stars in Apple's management firmament, spent a valuable amount of keynote time talking up the company's security values.

The senior vice president of iPhone software spoke in the special, and possibly patented, serious voice Apple executives use for announcing Big Important Things to rooms of crowded media folk. He also waved his hands about earnestly. This was serious stuff.

Forstall was talking about a new Apple technology for iOS called Background Location. He explained how the company...