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January 7, 2012

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Stranger's contacts start a trail towards stolen iPhone

A SHANGHAI resident said yesterday that he believes he has located his wife's stolen iPhone4, after a stranger's contacts appeared in her Gmail account.

The iPhone came installed with iCloud and accessed a Gmail account - both of which sync with users online accounts, updating changes made through a computer or the cellphone.

The man, surnamed Zhou, said that after the theft on the subway his wife logged on to her Gmail account on her computer and was surprised to find numerous new contacts, none of whom she knew.

In a microblog post, Zhou said whoever had the stolen phone loaded their contacts, which automatically synced with his wife's account.

"Whoever has the phone provided a great deal of information and I can locate his position," Zhou wrote.

Zhou posted screenshots of the contacts online and asked the police to investigate.

Whoever had the phone turned off iCloud but failed to disable Google Sync, which requires a password to do so.

Zhou said contacts of 171 people had been uploaded by yesterday, mostly numbers registered in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

"It seems that the cellphone had been taken to Xinjiang," Zhou claimed.

Police said they are investigating the theft.

However, Zhou may have infringed privacy, said Lu Enhui, a lawyer with Living Stones law firm in Shanghai.

"Strictly speaking, Zhou has violated the person's privacy by uploading his network and phone numbers without permission," Lu said.

But Lu said as this had not had any consequences, Zhou may not need to compensate.

Last week, a Nanjing teenager recovered her lost iPhone4 when the girl who found it was traced after taking a self-portrait. This uploaded to the owner's iCloud account.


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