"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.)
A software update trims a location file four weeks after its existence was revealed
In a Q&A released last week, Apple (AAPL) promised to do something "within a few weeks" about the location database that triggered lawsuits and investigative hearings both here and abroad. The fix, in a free software update for iPhones and iPads called iOS 4.3.3, arrived Wednesday afternoon.
Also on Fortune.com:
LocationGate was a 'bug,' says Apple
LocationGate: The counterattack
Track your MORE
Cooler heads have started to respond to the smartphone data flap, but it may be too late
"If there is anything less appropriate than a technologically ignorant media covering the subtleties of the manufactured LocationGate phony-scandal," writes Roughly Drafted's Daniel Eran Dilger, in a post perhaps too subtle for his usual AppleInsider audience, "it's the investigative policing by US and EU politicians who have suspended their efforts to rectify the economy, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 26, 2011 8:11 AM ET
For those who want to log their every move, Google now offers an extension to its Latitude service which logs your location history.
Google Location History is a new service announced today from Google that attempts to track your every move and save that data for your perusal.
If you are anything like me, you are thinking that this ventures way too far into my privacy. I don't want Google (GOOG) knowing MORESeth Weintraub - May 26, 2010 5:28 PM ET
|GM's recalled Cobalt was a failure from the start|
|Pope Francis challenges the free market - The Buzz|
|Why you should pay off your car loan ASAP|
|Americans have fallen in love with real estate once again|
|5 people you might not tip (but should)|