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Monday, April 25, 2011, 01:10 pm PT (04:10 pm ET)

Apple already hit with lawsuit over iOS location tracking file

As the iOS 4 location tracking file on the iPhone continues to make headlines, two customers have already sued Apple and accused the company of invasion of privacy and computer fraud.

The class-action suit was filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla., by Vikram Ajjampur of Florida and William Devito of New York. The two have asked a judge to bar the data collection on iPhones and 3G-equipped iPads, according to Bloomberg.

"We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go," attorney Aaron Mayer reportedly said in representing his clients. "If you are a federal marshal you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one."

The customers seek refunds for their purchases, because they said they would not have bought Apple's products if they had known of the location tracking. The plaintiffs said they were unaware of the tracking and never consented to it.

Apple has not yet officially commented on the matter, which gained attention last week, when two researchers publicized it. They found that the iOS 4 mobile operating system creates a file, "consolidated.db," which collects latitude and longitude coordinates where the device has been, along with a timestamp.

It has been suggested that the file's existence and the fact that data is recorded but never deleted are an oversight by Apple. The unencrypted information resides on a user's phone and in iTunes backups, but has not been found to be transmitted to Apple or any third parties.



Disabling location services on an iPhone or iPad also does not stop the creation of the file or the recording of location information. Researchers have advised users to encrypt their iTunes backup files to bolster security, as anyone with access to a device or just a backup file could extract the information.

In addition to the class-action lawsuit, Apple's iOS 4 tracking scandal has also prompted investigations of the company in South Korea, France, Germany, and Italy. And last week, two national elected officials in the U.S. sent letters to Apple, expressing concerns over the "consolidated.db" tracking file and requesting information regarding why the data is collected.