A recent Associated Press article described a passenger on a flight who lost his iPad. Luckily, he had enabled the “Find My iPad” app on the device. When he got home, he used his computer to log into Apple and have it pinpoint the current location of the device. It turned out the iPad was located at the home of a flight attendant from the plane. Although she claimed that she found the tablet and was going to give it to the airline lost and found, some of her personal information, including her husband’s birthday, was already on the device. Needless to say, local police and the airline are investigating.
This story highlights the benefits of turning on the device tracking app built into iPads and iPhones. However, is there a downside to being able to track your device’s movements? Last year, Apple faced a bit of controversy because it was revealed that the iPhone 4 was collecting detailed location information and storing the data directly on the device in such a way that app developers could access and upload it to their servers. An update to the iPhone operating system last May closed this privacy hole.
While Apple claims that any location related information uploaded from a device is done anonymously, Find My iPad needs your personal information to work. Does this mean that Apple does track your specific location, and if so, is it possible for Apple to be required to turn this information over to appropriate parties in a litigation? There is a lot of discussion about this on various website, but it looks like jury is still out on this question.