If you have ever sync'd up and backed up your iOS device you can find the backups here:
/Users/[YOUR USER NAME]/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
To find the database file run the command:
grep -R CellLocation *
You can then run the SQLite database through SQLite and check it out for yourself:
$ sqlite3 [FILE NAME]
SQLite version 3.6.12
Enter ".help" for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a ";"
Yes, it contains cell location data in the CellLocation table and yes, it does also contain Wifi location data in the WifiLocation table but all this is old news. This location data has always been around and has been available via the Core Location API's. What we are looking at nothing more than log files. My guess is that Apple is preparing up a formal statement and will put out an iOS update which will increase the purge time of this data so that fewer records are kept as well as fully turn off this logging if you choose to disable Location data in your iOS device settings. But there is no evidence that Apple is collecting this data and submitting it to themselves (let alone any 3rd party).
I found a great write up from an expert in the field who has written a book on iOS Forensic Analysis prior to this recent research 'announcement.' This is mostly anti-Apple FUD campaign. The 'announcement' of this 'discovery' by this particular group was timed for the Where 2.0 conference. Just a big publicity stunt by O'Reilly media that was blown totally out of proportion. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple sued O'Reilly media for defamation.
UPDATE, April 27th at 11:08am:
Well, it looks like I was right and Apple did just release a press release. In their press release, they do refer to this database as just a cache... And like I guessed, they're putting out a quick update to iOS that will:
- reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone,
- ceases backing up this cache, and
- deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.