If you’ve ever found the Significant Locations section on your iPhone, then a recently published study that shows how such data can be used to decipher personal information about users should pose some alarm.

Significant Locations

The way Significant Locations works is that your iPhone keeps a list of places you frequently visit. This list usually shows your favorite places and shops and will, of course, log the location of any service you might visit often, such as the medical center.

Apple gathers this information to provide “useful location-related information” in its apps and services, and promises this data is encrypted and cannot be read by Apple. But I’m a little unclear whether this information is made available to third-party apps.

You can see this information for yourself, but you really have to know where to look: go to  Privacy>Location Services>System Services and then look at Significant Locations item at the end of a lengthy list. Tap on any one of the items in the list to find a whole set of data points, including all the different places you’ve been in your city, and when.

Apple’s crusade to protect privacy is well-known and I believe it to be sincere in its attempt. But it could go one step further with this feature. Let me explain why.

Why we need private places

A newly published report shows that location data can be used to figure out personal information.

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