For those of you who are not familiar with the topic, a quick search will turn up a lot of hits, e.g. see the researcher's report at Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves - O'Reilly Radar and their application at petewarden/iPhoneTracker @ GitHub, and Fox News: Apple iPhones Track Your Location, British Experts Warn
To summarize, there was a recent "discovery" that iPhones track your location via cell tower tracking, and store months of that data in a single file, "consolidated.db". Thus, a hardcopy record of your phone's every movement (while the phone is on). The data is typically also backed up by iTunes to your computer.
See e.g. Marco Ramilli's Blog: iPhone Tracker (thanks @atdre for the link) on the one hand, or 3 Major Issues with the Latest iPhone Tracking “Discovery” | Alex Levinson (which notes the similar predecessor file, h-cells.plist) on the other.
My two part questions here, without speculating on what is actually done with that data (unless you have hard information):
- What is the extent of risk here? What is the worst impact, and what does this mean? Basically I'm looking for a threat model / risk profile on this data.
- (Assuming the risk is high enough... ) How can one go about protecting themselves (short of dropping the iPhone altogether)? e.g. protecting that file, preventing the logging, deleting it, setting it to not send, etc.
Note that privacy exposures of location tracking information for other phones is also on-topic here.