Apple Denies Tracking Users’ Locations
On Wednesday, Apple clarified how its iPhones used location data and promised to make it easier for users to remove the information from their devices.
Answering the growing pressure from the public and a House committee, Apple said that the devices collect and store location data of nearby cell phone towers and Wi-Fi hot spots to speed up location services in the apps that use them. They claim that the data is sent back to Apple encrypted and anonymously. Users have the option to turn location services off entirely.
“Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date,” the company said.
Concerns about Apple tracking user location arose last week when security researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden discussed the discovery of a file on iPhones that stores the latitudes and longitudes of the phone’s coordinates, along with a time stamp. Apple did not immediately respond to the announcement, which incited a storm of questions among users and the public that reached the United States Government.
A committee of House members including Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. sent letters to Apple as well as Google, Nokia, Research in Motion and Hewlett-Packard. The letters asked what kind of tracking devices their operating systems used, and demanded to know why they were using them.
Google has also admitted to using similar software to collect location data.
Sen. Franken called for a hearing on mobile privacy issues on May 10. Representatives from Apple and Google have been invited. In an interview with All Things Digital, Steve Jobs announced that the company would attend the hearing.
Article contains information from SFGate.