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An Apple a Day: Congress and FCC Want Answers, Apple Says No to iHub, 10 years of Retail

April 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Congress and FCC

We brought you news yesterday about the iPhone tracking your movements.  The story broke from OReilly.com.  Now, from the Politico we’re learning that Congress and the FCC want to muscle in on the action too.  What a surprise!  Looks like there may be something to regulate to death here.  The FCC has said it will investigate the matter, while congressman Al Franken (D-Minn) has sent a separate letter to Apple, questioning why the file in question was included in the first place.

“The existence of this information — stored in an unencrypted format — raises serious privacy concerns,”

said Franken, who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee’s new privacy panel, in a letter to Steve Jobs. He later emphasized the information — which could be

“accurate to 50 meters or less”

also applies to iPhones and iPads owned by children, and could easily be exploited by “criminals and bad actors.”

Meanwhile, Representative Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) A member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has called for “comprehensive online privacy legislation”.

In another angle on this story, Will Clarke, “A guy with a website” has apparently been doing an independent investigation into this story and has some interesting results.  He recently completed a very long bike trip, and so used the instructions posted to access his data.  He then compiled the information using SQlite to limit it to just the data points from his bike trip.  He then exported it to a CSV file, used an online tool to convert it to KML, and imported the route into Google Earth.  He found that the points were way off.  His results indicate that the information stored in the file is not YOUR location, but rather the location of the cell towers your iPhone is accessing as you move along.  Here’s the pic of the route taken by Clarke:

The red points are those pulled from his phone.  The blue line is his bike route.  The orange line is the route he used coming back.  Take the information as you will, but we have to say Clarke went through a lot of trouble to test this data, and his results can’t be dismissed out of hand.  Let us know what you think of Clarke’s test, the FCC, the Congress, or Apple in the comments!

iHub

A few weeks ago, Engadget had a interesting little gadget posted called the iHub, being sold by a Hong Kong-based online store called M.I.C. Gadget Store.  Basically, it’s a USB Hub.  Many people ordered the device, until Apple noticed it too.  The company was quickly told to pull it down and stop all sales, which it did.  But not before a few of them shipped.  So, if you were one of the lucky few to have ordered this device, you’ll also be the last.  Those who purchased the device received this e-mail.  E-mail text courtesy of 9to5 Mac

‘Dear Customer, We are warned by Apple Inc. to stop selling the iHub and pull it down from our store. If you have already made a purchase, you are one of the lucky ones. We ship all orders within 3 working days after payment made but due to the Easter Public Holiday from Apr 22~25, shipping resumes only Apr 26. As we have many orders to process, there will be a slight delay. Delivery takes 10-14 working days after ship out from Hong Kong and tracking will be provided upon ship out. Please accept our apologies and rest assured that we are working hard to rectify this. w/rgds, Cyril Chang’

10 Year Anniversary

At the end of next month Apple will be celebrating 10 years of its retail locations.  The first Apple stores opened on May 19th, 2001 in McLean, Virginia’s Tyson’s Corner Mall and at The Galleria in Glendale, California.  The Glendale location, store 001, has achieved cult status in the time since.  Apple store employees have been told that they cannot request time off around this date, possibly because Apple will be having some sort of anniversary event.  If they do, what do you expect to see?  What would you like to see?  Let us know!

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