Monday, November 11, 2013

My iPhone is Stalking Me

Last night I pulled down the "Today menu" on my silver and white iPhone 5S with iOS 7.0.3 loaded.  I'm not sure that that is what it is actually called but I call it the "Today menu" where it has the choices of "Today" "All" or "Missed" and usually gives you a little talk about the weather and your schedule along with stock prices.  (A Google search indicates it's called the "Notification Center.")  But last night it said something like, "It will take you about 15 minutes to reach . . ." and an address I didn't recognize.  I touched the text (not even sure that would do something) and it opened the Apple map app showing a route to that address.  I zoomed in.  It was a restaurant that, coincidentally, my wife and I have gone to the last  two Sunday nights in a row.

Now it is saying "Right now it would take you about 15 minutes to drive to . . ." and an address.  I assume the "right now" means it's looking at traffic (which I don't think is available in my little town) and figure it out.  But the address is where I go to Toastmasters every Monday night.

Unbeknownst to me, my iPhone seems to be figuring out my schedule and, in an effort to be helpful, letting me know how long it would take to get where I usually go.

I'm trying to decide if I should be happy with the convenience or annoyed at the lack of privacy.  Is this information going to Apple's servers?  (If it were an Android phone, I would assume Google had the information and was trying to figure out a way to monetize it.)  And if it's going to Apple's servers is it going to the NSA's servers?

I suppose I could turn off "Location Services" on the phone but that would eliminate so many convenient functions, including the map apps (I have the default Apple and the Google maps).  If I were a criminal that would be the first thing I would do.  Before the phone says, "Right now it would take you 35 minutes to get to the place you normally dump bodies."

And what else is my phone learning about me?  How long until privacy is a quaint notion people used to worry about, you know, before smartphones and dumb governments made it null.

1 comment:

  1. I recently bought a windows phone which 'helpfully' backs up everything to a server; personal texts, where I am, where I go, where I have been, personal photos etc to a ridiculous level of privacy invasion. I turned it all off once I had figured out how; a long winded procedure which left the phone only able to text and call as so many of its basic features apparently won't work without all these little boxes checked leaving no choice if you want to use them ...clever design. I like my privacy, I don't want to back up my entire life to some unknown server.

    Before that I had an iPhone (which I shall return to asap) and I found it less intrusive once the location services were turned off, the maps etc still worked.

    I can understand the 'convenience' of having all these buying suggestions based on what we already like, the helpful back ups, letting our friends know exactly where we are etc for some people but I like the choose who has this information myself. Sometimes it is useful; a friend was talking to her boyfriend on facebook messages and it conveniently showed her an exact map of his location as he wandered about somewhere he said he wasn't...

    We are all 'on the grid' but how many of us know exactly HOW on the grid we are at any given moment?