Apple tracks iPhone and Leopard users

A discovery buried deep within the code of some iPhone applications may be cause for concern for those who like to know who's seeing their data.

Some code-savvy users of the iPhone discovered the lines in a hidden string in at least two applications on the device, Stocks.app and Weather.app. The information is sent to a website on Apple's servers, according to the users.

Apple's terms of service for the device appear to permit this type of behavior. "When you interact with Apple, we may collect personal information relevant to the situation, such as your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, and contact preferences; your credit card information and information about the Apple products you own, such as their serial numbers and date of purchase; and information relating to a support or service issue," it reads.

However, at the same time Apple may have a hard time explaining why it would need to be sent the user's location information or data on their investments. Also it is not known whether this behavior extends to other applications as well.

On Mac enthusiast site Hackintosh where the spying was first disclosed, users reported that the application was sending data including IMEI number, IP address, and preference information.

Reaction to the discovery was somewhat mixed. "You know, this really brings to light the general attitude towards Apple," user "thecompkid" wrote. "Everyone is so quick to sing their praises, but even the most devoted would not trust them for a second. It's sad that we live in a world where people need to be so concerned about such things, but that's reality for you."

The iPhone may not be the only application doing this. On Digg, one commenter discovered Leopard was doing something similar in certain applications there, even in the most unexpected locations -- like the Calculator application.

Apple so far has not commented publicly on why -- or what -- it is tracking. But the revelation is sure to heighten criticism against a company which has enjoyed quite a long period of positive publicity as of late.

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