I read two articles today from the New York Times that exposed a pretty substantial loophole in Apple’s iPhone technology. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, when you buy a new app, before you open it, a prompt pops up on the screen and asks you if the app is “allowed to use your current location?” Now, I’ve never known what using my current location meant and I always assumed it just wanted to know what part of the country I’m in to further personalize my phone. And to be honest, after reading the articles, I’m still not fully sure what it means. But apparently, that message is extremely unclear in what it actually does. It was discovered that when you press accept and allow the app (any app) to use your current location, the app has full access to your address book and to your photo library. Your whole photo library can be secretly extracted and sent to an external server somewhere where your photos are no longer private. There are even some websites that are attempting to collect and post these pictures of regular people, celebrities and politicians. And you would have no idea if it happened to you.
This is just an example of how scary the internet can really be. Everyone assumes that just because you are not actually interacting with another person, you are anonymous. People who assume that anything they do regarding technology these days is private, are sorely mistaken and need to be careful with what they post. But this goes beyond choice or intent. If you post something on the internet not expecting someone to see it, review it or share it and that happens, well, that’s your fault. But with this photo library extraction, you literally have no control. If sometimes you hear of a private picture of some celebrity that was “leaked” and posted on TMZ or something, it is very likely that it could have come from this loophole.
But don’t jump down Apple’s throat just yet. It turns out that other leading smartphone manufacturers, mainly Android, are even worse. Where Apple asks for your permission to use your location, on Androids, once you purchase the app you have unknowingly given permission. There is no prompt screen requesting your information, it just automatically starts extracting your photo library. So although Apple’s loophole is malicious and intrusive, Androids loophole is just that much worse.
So watch out. It’s really unfortunate but be careful with what you keep on your phone. Apple and Google (Android’s manufacturer) are attempting to fix the problem but since we didn’t know about this in first place, how will we know the problem has been fixed? Be weary of this loophole and don’t allow apps to use your current location. As technology becomes more and more advanced, it turns out that on the internet, people do know you’re a cat.
Original articles here: