Silently, stealthily, without my knowledge, my iPhone has kept a record of my travels over the past year, from June 6, 2010, up through the present day. Yours does, too.
The data it gathers is now accessible to anyone with the iPhoneTracker app, which plots the information (your location, based on cell phone tower activity) on a world map. The map at the top of this entry details my activity in the Atlanta metro area over the past year. As you can see, with the exception of traveling I-20 West (to go home to Alabama) and I-985 (up to Clayton, where friends have a cabin), I’m strictly an “inside the perimeter” kind of guy.
My world map is equally cool:
There we are: in Seattle, Arizona, Michigan … the Caribbean … Europe … Southeast Asia. Zooming in on the Mediterranean, I could trace the route our cruise ship took from port to port. Dots appear on some islands and coastlines we never visited, because my phone locked onto cell towers in that area as our cruise ship drifted by.
The web and the media will be awash today with privacy advocates crying “Foul!” It’s worth noting, though, that this is the exact same data your cell phone company keeps on you, every day, day in, day out. This is just the first time you’ve had easy access to it, as well.