The latest on the iPhone/iPad location tracking data brouhaha: “The Wall Street Journal” (http://macte.ch/YdBQm) reports that iPhone is collecting and storing location information even when location services are turned off, according to a test the publication conducted.
The location data appear to be collected using cellphone towers and Wi-Fi access points near a user’s phone and don’t appear to be transmitted back to Apple. However, the “WSJ” says it appears that turning off location services doesn’t disable the storage of location data on iPhones. The Journal tested the collection of data on an iPhone 4 that had been restored to factory settings and was running the latest version of Apple’s iOS operating system.
“The Journal disabled location services (which are on by default) and immediately recorded the data that had initially been gathered by the phone,” the newspaper reports. “The Journal then carried the phone to new locations and observed the data. Over the span of several hours as the phone was moved, it continued to collect location data from new places. These data included coordinates and time stamps; however, the coordinates were not from the exact locations that the phone traveled, and some of them were several miles away. The phone also didn’t indicate how much time was spent in a given location. Other technology watchers on blogs and message boards online have recorded similar findings.”
What’s more, Apple is being investigated by South Korea’s communications regulator to determine if it is breaking the law by saving data on the location of iPhone users, reports “Bloomberg Businessweek” (http://macte.ch/jLJOr). The Korea Communications Commission asked Apple how often information is collected and saved, and whether users have a choice over whether it is saved or deleted, the commission said in an e-mailed statement today. The commission also said it will form a team to study how to better protect smartphone users’ information and privacy.
Apple has been investigated by French, German and Italian privacy regulators since analysts reported the company’s devices track and store data about the movements of iPhone and iPad users, notes “Bloomberg Businessweek.”
Meanwhile, one “MacRumors” (http://www.macrumors.com) reader reportedly emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs and asked: “Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It’s kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don’t track me. Jobs purportedly answered: “Oh yes they do. We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.”
— Dennis Sellers