Why Are Apple, Google Tracking Your Phone?


Analyst: Who Else Could Access Your Location Data?

For Apple, other possible motivators could be targeted ads based on location or geographically-informed market analysis, Higbee said.

"But the bigger question is who else will find creative uses for this data in the future?" Higbee asked, adding that even though Apple may be using the information in a responsible manner now, there's no guarantee that things won't change in the future.

While Apple and Google may say the data is safe as long as users don't install malicious applications, it's still possible that crooks could create malware intended to access and exploit that location information.

And research shows that smartphone users are worried about sharing their location through their phones.

On the heels of this week's Apple news, research firm Nielsen released data suggesting that the majority of smartphone app users, especially women, are concerned about giving up their location via their mobile phones. In a blog post Thursday, the company said that 59 percent of women and 52 percent of men expressed privacy concerns when asked about location-sharing.

Peter Eckersley, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, earlier told ABCNews.com that as people realize how many different parties can access their location information, they "will be horrified."

"Location data is very sensitive," he said. It can reveal where you live and work, where you frequent for movies and dinner and even if you've spent the night at someone else's house.

Once people realize where their location data is going, he said, we will need to redesign our phones so that we can benefit from location-based services "without phoning home to 10 different mother ships showing where we are."

"The phone is such an intimate window into our lives," he said. "It needs to be treated with an appropriate level of caution."

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