This week it was revealed that the iPhone stores users’ locations, and this immediately caused a huge firestorm of commentary by tech geeks, panic among privacy advocates, and delight to data geeks like myself. Even better/worse, it seems that the iPhone caches location traces long-term, possibly back to the date the phone was activated.
I ditched my iPhone this past December (good riddance) in favor of the Droid X (Android). I figured, on such an open source OS, Google must be doing the same thing. After surfing through Hacker News, it turns out I was right.
Compared to the iPhone though, getting the data on an Android phone is not simple.
The data is stored in two files, cache.cell and cache.wifi in the directory /data/data/com.google.android.location/files.
First, the user cannot browse this directory by attaching it to a computer. I installed an SSH daemon QuickSSHD to allow remote access into my phone.
Second, it is not possible to access this directory without getting a Permission denied error, even if logged in as “root” as Google has not made this directory readable.
Finally, for those (myself) that are still determined to crack this nut, you will need to root your phone. This makes the “root” user a real [...]