"Does this data indicate anything about your location or doesn't it?"
At the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on privacy, technology and law Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken put his finger on the most glaring contradiction in the controversy that has come to be known as Locationgate:
On the other, we have Apple's Q&A, issued the same week, claiming that data stored on each iPhone will "help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location."
"It does not appear to me," Franken told Guy L. ("Bud") Tribble, who was representing Apple at the hearings, "that both these statements could be true at the same time."
It turns out, as Tribble took pains to explain, that Franken was conflating two databases, a huge, crowd-sourced one that Apple maintains, and the much smaller subsets downloaded onto each iPhone as they are needed.
Of course, Tribble's answer and Steve Jobs' assurances would be of no comfort to the unfaithful husband whose wife discovered -- by mapping his iPhone data -- that he did not spend the weekend in the country with his golfing buddies, but in the city, presumably with his mistress.
Franken, however, did not have the wit to ask the follow-up.
Below: The transcript of their exchange. (For the record, "data" is a plural noun, but we'll spare you the [sic]s.)
Find out how much your Mac knows about where your iOS devices have been
The map at right shows, for anyone who cares, where my iPhone has traveled in the Northeast since last June.
Apple (AAPL) has been getting a lot of heat this week for gathering this intelligence of potential forensic interest and storing it in unencrypted form whenever its mobile devices are synced with a computer.
Google (GOOG) Android phones also MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 22, 2011 11:01 AM ET
|Homeless college students seek shelter during breaks|
|GM names Mary Barra as new CEO|
|Don't fight it. Bitcoin has a bright future|
|Snowden docs had NYTimes exec fearing for his life|
|Financial regulators unveil long-awaited Volcker Rule|