updated 01:05 pm EDT, Thu April 21, 2011
File may actually be location cache
The controversial location history file in iOS may simply be a mistake on Apple's part, says Daring Fireball's John Gruber. Citing an unidentified source, Gruber suggests that consolidated.db is actually intended to be a cache for location data. The data should be culled automatically, but iOS is thought to be leaving it alone because of a bug or a simple oversight on Apple's part.
It's speculated that the problem could be fixed in a future iOS update. Apple has already drawn considerable flak over the file however, as it is unprotected by default, and could theoretically reveal a person's home and travel habits. Minnesota senator Al Franken has even issued a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking for an explanation.
Mitigating the file's threat is the imprecision of the location data, and the fact that an attacker would need either direct access or a remote opening presented by a hack or exploit. It is also possible to impose a limited umbrella protection by encrypting device backups in iTunes. This, though, may be irrelevant if an attacker has the iPhone or 3G iPad in question.