Apple has released an official statement in regard to growing concerns with iPhones and their alleged location tracking function. This comes in the wake of Apple, along with five other companies, drawing direct inquiries from Republican lawmakers looking to determine once and for all whether their products breach any privacy rules by logging user location information.
Today, Apple posted on its website answers to all inquiries and concerns that have been made public over the past week or so, primarily stating: “Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
The company goes on to explain that the iPhone is not tracking the users’ location, but that it’s “maintaining a database of wi-fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location” in order to allow your phone to “rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” According to Apple, these location points that it keeps track of can be as far as one hundred miles away from the iPhone and certainly do not reveal the identity of the user. Cheating spouses can rest easy.
Virtually all iPhone users have seen a location request bubble pop up on their device asking if they’d like an app service to determine their current location, and Apple has now revealed how it’s done.
The database of this data stored on the phone can contain entries as much as a year old, which Apple says is a bug. It promised today that a future update to the iOS will reduce the size of this database and delete its entire contents as soon as location services are turned off.
This location logging function was originally uncovered by ex-Apple employee Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, who presented their discovery at last week’s Where2.0 conference. Much of the controversy surrounding this issue came about because it took Apple a week to respond.
Other Companies Involved
The five other companies also questioned by lawmakers about this issue were Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Research in Motion (Blackberry) and HP. Google has already publicly stated that it notifies its users about its anonymous location tracking up front and that they have a choice on whether or not to use it.