Last week's news that relatively imprecise cell phone tower location data from iPhones is stored in a file that is backed up onto your computer seems to be gathering a lot of attention. It was even the main topic of discussion on last night's TUAW Talkcast.
"Locationgate" began when two researchers released a Mac app (iPhone Tracker) that not only finds the file on your computer, but also displays that information. The iPhone Tracker plot of my location information (seen above) shows that I seem to spend a lot of time in the Denver area. That's not surprising, since that's where I live.
Bloomberg reported that the South Korean government has contacted Apple for information about location information collection. In South Korea, the collection of GPS coordinates violates privacy laws, so the government wants to know how the information is stored and whether users can choose to turn off the storage of location data. The Korea Communications Commission also wants to know why Apple captures the information and if it is stored on the company's servers.
South Korea isn't the only country in which privacy advocates are up in arms -- French, American, German and Italian regulators also want to know why Apple collects the information. Razorian Fly notes that Apple has already explained why it collects and store this data in a letter to the US Congress last year. Basically, it's done so Apple has its own location services and is not dependent on Google or Skyhook for that information. It's this location data that your iPhone queries when it initially tries to figure out where it is, before the device locks onto the GPS satellite constellation.