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Localization services built 12 million identifiable user database

As much as Apple loves to boast about having the most secure operating systems and services in the industry, it's always worth remembering: data are never totally anonymous. A report published today in New York Times serves to reinforce exactly this point.

The newspaper gained access to a file with the precise location of more than 12 million smartphones in the United States between 2016 and 2017. These data should theoretically be anonymous, but could be easily linked to specific people simply by analyzing, for example, the daily trip between a user's home and office, and matching These two addresses with a quick search on the internet.

Armed with this information, journalists from New York Times were able, for example, to trace the movements of a Microsoft engineer in Seattle; One day he visited Amazon's campus in the same city, and the next month, he went to work on his competitor. Only with this data, the report was able to identify it as Ben broili, one Amazon Prime Air Manager (the delivery service by drones from the retail giant).

The database, which is the largest of its kind ever scrutinized by a newsletter, was provided by anonymous sources concerned about the disregard that technology companies generally deal with users' privacy. Location data has been captured by third party companies to which we grant permissions every day so that we can use our favorite apps on Android iPhones and smartphones, and it is worth noting that buying / selling these location lists is perfectly legal in the US (and not Brazil, too).

The case of the Microsoft / Amazon engineer was just an example to illustrate the whole thing, but the team at New York Times It has also been able to identify and track the movement of people in locations important to US national security, such as the Pentagon and the White House. That is, it involves everyone including a lot of important people.

Contacted by MacRumors, Apple said it had no comments on the report. As the whole thing has gained some repercussions, however, we may see Ma (and other companies) talking about the issue in the near future. Let's wait.