Some Sort of Profit-Making Scheme¹

Posted on Jul 18, 2008

The FSF has published their “5 reasons to avoid iPhone 3G”.  They have some valid points, but I’d be much more likely to respect them if the things like this they produced were not laden in hyperbole.  The article is full of it, but one piece of ‘information’ in particular struck me:

It’s also a tracking device, and like other proprietary GPS-enabled phones, can transmit your location without your knowledge

First, GPS is passive.  The phone receives GPS signals from the satellites, it doesn’t transmit them to the satellites.  ‘They’ can’t track you just because you have a GPS phone.  Second, (and one of the things I think makes this accusation especially insidious is that this might not be obvious to a layman reading the article, but should be obvious to the FSF), you can be sure that if software on the phone was sending your location out to ‘them’, some inquisitive geek would see the network traffic and figure it out.  Third, (and making the other points almost moot), you’re using a cellphone.  The phone company’s cells track your phone’s location anyway (they have to know which cell you’re in, after all).  ‘They’ already know where you are.

[1] Title shamelessly stolen from John Gruber’s excellent take on the article.