Apple Q&A on tracking location data: “we don't do it,” not exactly
Did you know that your iPhone 4 is tracking your location data? You might not have been informed up until a week ago when what seems to have been quietly discovered months ago by a research group finally made it to the headlines. But is it true? Apple claims that it's not. Not exactly.
“1. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?
Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
Wait, you must be slightly confused after it was confirmed that it not only tracks the position of your iPhone, but it does so in an unencrypted file, which is also backed up to your PC everytime you back up your handset. This means that everyone in the know looking for it, might have a personal record of your travels for a whole year. The ability to have a complete record of your location might sound cool at first, but having it unencrypted should make it slightly disturbing even for the most liberal of users out there.
“3. Why is my iPhone logging my location?
The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone”
Is Apple saying here that it's not recording your location with absolute precision? Technically Cupertino is right – it only tracks the position of cell towers, but the final result is arguably the same as you get a rather accurate estimate of your location through cell tower triangulation.
While knowing your position in environments where GPS would have taken a lot of time is undoubtedly beneficial, the security issue remains unaddressed. Cupertino was actually surprised to find out it's collecting a year worth of your iPhone's location, while it was only supposed to gather information about a week. Luckily, that's going to change in an upcoming update:
“The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly ... We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.”
The irony of it all is that Steve Jobs himself stood up to quite convincingly make the point that iOS is absolutely secure. We would hate to blow this out of proportion, but it seems that with all privacy measures, the amount of data collected could be endangered. Bugs are inevitable, but the bottom line is that it's honorable that Apple came up with an official statement and an update is now pending. And being reassured about security is a nice prelude to the white iPhone 4, isn't it? Check out the full Q&A at the link below and don't hesitate to let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments section.
1. iwebdroidberry7 (Posts: 230; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
Steve Jobs never said iOS was bug free PhoneArena. And do you guys understand how far away from a cell tower you can be? It's virtually useless to track somebody through cell towers. And if thats such a big deal then people should start suing cell phone companies as well becasue they do virtually the same thing!
2. msa1988 (Posts: 417; Member since: 30 Mar 2010)
Do you have any idea what triangulation is? If you have 3 distances from 3 different cell towers, you can track exactly where the person was at any given time. Id explain more, but you are probably too stupid to understand.
Android phones track your location as well, but that's with your own consent. Apple has been tracking AND saving your locations without them knowing. Whether its for studies of where hot spots should be installed, they are still doing it. I don't see it as a big deal, but it is a big deal how they wont own up to their mistakes.
4. PhoneLuver (Posts: 474; Member since: 05 Jul 2010)
Totally agree with you! They should just apologize so we can all move on with our lives!
13. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Apologize for what? For providing better and faster service to their users? This has caused no inconvenience to users at all. Phones will never be bug free.
12. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Apple does not track their users. Didn't you read that part? They already explained how that log can help give faster results for users when using an iphone to locate something.
They already said that there's a bug that needs to be fixed. So what's not owning up to it?
36. applesauce (unregistered)
you're blind. They clearly stated that they do track it, but deny that they are being bad about it, even when they are. It's confusing for an immature kid like you to understand, but I"m sure that if you pull your head out of your pokemon book I'm sure you might realize just how contradictory and dishonest your glorified company is being
37. queen (unregistered)
Lol applesauce, well-said. Gemini: Every smartphone with GPS and location capabilities tracks user location. Tracking users, and user location is the same, is it not? Besides that, as others have already stated, that isn't really the issue. The issue, is that they were doing it without informing people, which is why there is a lawsuit pending. Not to mention that, A. the data is not encrypted, and B. they've been saving a year's worth of data. If Google were doing this, I'm sure people would be upset just the same. Funny though, it seems to be only Apple that ever does these things and then tries to sugarcoat it. They count on the fact that beloved followers like you are going to believe whatever they say, and still continue to use your iPhone while simultaneously sending them your every move. Nice.
44. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
I know that silly. But what you fandroids are trying to insinuate is, that Apple is actually following users around with bad intentions like exposing where they were last night. Apple does not care about anyone's whereabouts. What they care about is providing better and improved services to their users. As far as informing users and getting users consent on everything that's happening every time a task is executed on a phone, you are out of your mind. What next? Apple and google needing to submit OS algorithms to all users and then get their consent for it before going forward? You're nuts.
54. vishu9 (Posts: 251; Member since: 03 Mar 2011)
really 530gemini?? thats wat u think ppl are upset abt with this issue? that they're upset apple's following them everywhr?! Seriously man, take stock of the whole scenario for once. People are upset bcoz their beloved iPhone's been tracking their location in an UNENCRYPTED file that any other person who has knowledge abt it can easily re-trace their every move!!..and this is being done without even INFORMING or taking the user's PERMISSION as should the normal courtesy! this is what everyone's angry about. if a huge respectable bigwig like Apple is gonna store the users' sensitive data like location then they do need to let tem know they're doing so
45. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Not sugarcoating anything. Let Apple and google do whatever they need to do to provide better services to their users, as long as users are protected and not invaded.
What next? Are you going to sue doctors for keeping records of your xray results? Or sue credit card companies for reporting your credit history to credit bureaus w/out your consent. Geez louisse.
43. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
You are not reading Apple's statements carefully. They do not track any specific user. If they do need data sent back to them, it is anonymized. They do collect some data, but not all of it, only those serving its purpose, and again, when they do, it gets anonymized. Read it again and stop twisting things around or taking their statements out of context.
53. nimo (Posts: 72; Member since: 11 Jun 2010)
Triangulation is only acuarate to about 50 meters, thats hardly "exactly where the person is"
7. 3MTA3 (unregistered)
Spoken like a true sheep
3. PhoneLuver (Posts: 474; Member since: 05 Jul 2010)
I have an iPhone and generally I'm very happy with it, but Apple is really starting to irk me with how they address these type of things!
They should move some of the marketing guys to the P.R. department to address issues head on, thus preventing bugs from becoming headline news or people having to file lawsuits to get a response!!
6. 3MTA3 (unregistered)
Instead of moving PR guys to address the issues apple should fire their CEO and get a new one. Good idea, no?
9. doubler86 (Posts: 320; Member since: 26 Jan 2011)
Not really no, As arrogant as Steve Jobs is and as much as I don't like him, without him right now, Apple will plummet in sales. He is every apple's fanboy leader, and represents them well. He could however step down from being CEO and just be their spokesman, and I think they'd be just fine.
5. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5954; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
"They should move some of the marketing guys to the P.R. department..." That won't help until Steve learns not to be defensive and lie when caught red-handed.
8. gomez (unregistered)
are they tracking ipod touch to or not?
18. iHateCrapple (Posts: 734; Member since: 12 Feb 2010)
Most likely not if it's only logging cell towers. But who knows what the fruity software is doing.
10. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Okay, great, glad that they're going to fix the issue. But after all the bragging about how secure iOS is, it only serves to highlight what a HUGE FUCKING GAPING SECURITY HOLE this was. I mean, you only put out ONE phone a year, and this location tracking file is obviously a huge deal. To miss a bug that not only saves your entire location history, but then BACKS IT ALL UP to any devices you sync with, AND is completely unencrypted, is not just a bug; it's FUCKING MOTHRA.
At least Apple themselves have seemed to learn from Antennagate and have not dragged this out into a months long debacle. I'll give them credit for that, and for promising a fix.
14. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Why are you relieved? You don't even have the iphone. What security hole are you talking about? The log stays in your phone and computer. Again, you are overreacting. You are such a drama queen sniggly, lol. No iphone user was harmed. Thanks for the unnecessary concern. Didn't know you cared for us that much :)
16. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
See my response below.
And nothing has come of this hole yet, but there's still time before Apple farts out the software patch. And the fact that it was overlooked by Apple themselves for almost a year AFTER release is what's really bothersome.
17. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
And the fact that there was no identity stolen or kidnapped or killed or mugged almost after a year that this has been going on, simply means that it is not a major risk issue.
21. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
No, it's not, but the potential was there, and Apple's initial denial of the existence of any problem was frightening.
I wasn't being hysterical; I was pissed off that Apple would dare to point fingers at Android over relatively minor issues and then treat this issue like it didn't exist. Even the potential risk paled in comparison to the amount of oversight required to allow such a bug to exist, and the amount of callousness required to put out the initial responses they did.
25. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
The potential will always be there. Are you implying that android devices are risk free? Apple never denied the issue. They denied tracking their users, but they never denied the issue.
Apple did not point fingers at android at all. The interviewer said that he's switching to droid because they don't track you. So Jobs said that they do. Where's the finger pointing? Finger pointing would be like, "this is happening because android told us to", now that's finger pointing.
Apple did not disregard the issue at all. There's already been word right after this all came out that they claimed this to be a bug and are looking in to it. But of course fandroids jumped on it right away like they're affected.
28. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Apple and Steve Jobs have, several times in the past, belittled Android for the same things that you iFanboys parrot. Until today, there was no word from them on what the nature of the file was. If they claim it's a bug, then fine, I'll let them.
Jobs was still wrong, which is a point you fail to realize. Android does not do what the iPhone does with its location tracking. If you turn off location services on an Android phone, it stops tracking you. Apple, on the other hand, keeps this file. If it's supposed to only be a week's worth of information, and if it's only supposed to help Apple's location services, then fine. But that's not what it has been for almost a year.
The bottom line is: a major utility on the iPhone did not work at all as designed, and posed a potential threat to its users as a result. That's IF Apple's official story can be believed. I can't fathom why they would want to deliberately keep tabs on someone's entire location history myself, but it's still incredibly weird.
32. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Uh please. Both are in competition. Exchange of words are common between rivals. Google have said ugly things about Apple as well. Just look at their commercials.
There was nothing wrong with what Steve said. He was blunt, yes, but what he said was thw truth. The truth that you didn't want to hear. And stop saying that Apple "keeps this file", because they don't. It stays in the users phone and computer.
Bottom line is, if tracking is necessary for better and improved services, then I'm fine with it.
40. duder (unregistered)
"Apple did not point fingers at android at all. The interviewer said that he's switching to droid because they don't track you. So Jobs said that they do. "
so if thats not pointing the finger what is? its almost scary for how brainwashed u seem right now gemini.
to try to put in simple terms for you gemini Somebody said apple did something bad and the unhonorable jobs said they didnt do it even though thier is clear proof
46. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
That is not pointing a finger. That's plainly answering a question. The interviewer brought up an android device, not Steve. The interviewer said that android devices do not track its users, Steve plainly corrected him. That is not pointing finger or blaming.
Apple is not tracking their users whereabouts. That is the truth, unless proven otherwise. Why are you forcing that to be the truth? Does using a location based service app automatically means that I am being followed by Apple and presenting my whereabouts up in their board meetings? I don't think so.
38. queen (unregistered)
Gemini, so you're saying that someone has to die before they fix it? LOL, for the first time, I agree with you.
48. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Well in some cases, YES. That's how most laws are created.
52. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)
ya and honestly if it was such a big threat who has exploited it? cause to my understanding it just got found a few weeks ago...
11. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Again, android users flocking in, lol. Thanks for all your concern to an issue that does not affect you at all :)
15. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
As much as I dislike Apple, with the sheer amount of people who own the iPhone, I don't want the company to turn into a flaming pile of pure evil and tentacles. If Apple gets its act together I may eventually consider buying an iPhone as an alternate device. So yes, this does concern me as a consumer who may not always adhere strictly to Android.
19. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
It's the anti-Apple users who like to deem Apple as evil. Who is forcing the notion into people's throats that Apple is tracking their users? It's the android fans. No matter what Apple does, it will always be evil as far as android die hards are concerned. Just read all the comments from all these Apple related articles. Majority are from non-iphone users posting nothing but negative comments accusing Apple of this and that, and making baseless accusations and assumptions just to ruin Apple. Now tell me, is that something a "do gooder" would do? I don't think so. So save it.
22. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Gemini, haters will hate. We have you, Taco, IOS5, Hawk, and Luis to show for that. As many negative comments you see from all of us, there are so many more (and often more ignorant) comments from iFanboys. How many times have I heard complaints about instability and fragmentation, insecurity and poor quality? How many times has Taco claimed "crushing defeats" inflicted on Android by the iPhone? How many times do I hear Hawk (who claims to have somehow bricked THREE brand new Droid Xs in a row) bitch about the low quality of premium Android products?
And no matter how much we concede about this issue or that, no matter how many times we say "Yeah, the iPhone is good at this or that, and they did innovate a couple of times," no matter how nice any of us are to any of you, you NEVER give any such concessions to Android or any other competitor of the iPhone's.
So as much as you'd like me to save the "do gooder act," (which is not an act, I assure you I care more about customer satisfaction and safety than anyone you could ever possibly name) I'd like you to save the goddamned persecution complex.
And maybe we can cut the bullshit right now, and start finding shit we can agree on instead.
29. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Sorry, but unlike you, I don't REGULARLY spend my time on android related articles. I have nothing against android. And the android issues that we bring up is in defense to your attacks. Again read the Apple related articles and count how many fandroids go in there to bash Apple and its users. Fandroids even post comments even before iphone users do. I do consider myself an Apple fanboy and defender, but I will never be a hater. Honeslty, I don't mind the arguments, I learn a lot through it. I only wish that it could be at an intellectual level.
30. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Whenever you're discussing things with me, you DO get a relatively intellectual argument. :P
Okay, so let's test this claim of yours, Gemini: what do you like about Android? What do you, yourself dislike? And have you ever actually owned an Android phone, and if so, which one?
33. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Not the topic or article for it. I'd rather not gear away from the topic.
41. 530geminiisawhinykid (unregistered)
So when confronted with an honest, upfront, and intellectual conversation, you shy away from it? Yep, you're a little kid, and you're pefectly imiating your idol cult-god steve jobs.
Stop sucking, stand up, and look around kid: the world is passing you by.
47. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
Oh shut up already. I enjoy exchanging opinions when they are about the topic. What now? Do you want to talk about your grandma's favorite recipe? Come on. Stay within the topic.
20. iHateCrapple (Posts: 734; Member since: 12 Feb 2010)
I "flocked" in because this is awesome ammo to move someone off of an iPhone and into a Droid....which makes me more $$$.
23. Whateverman (Posts: 3233; Member since: 17 May 2009)
Don't speak for Android users. This does effect me because I happen to own an iPad, so shut it!
26. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
You...you own an iPad? Whateverman...how...how COULD you?!
*runs off and cries*
*comes back* Just kidding, can you imagine if I was actually LIKE that? :D
27. andro (unregistered)
Apple are truely pathetic. How long before the even the most braindead fanboys wakes up and see the continual arrogant replies to everything from surveillance of their slaves to trying to deny their faulty phones.it really is funny to see how stupid fanboys can be
31. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
This just in: I have received a report from my spies at Cupertino about what happens to the data your iPhone sends in every twelve hours:
1. The data gets transmitted to Apple.
2. It gets printed out.
3. Jobs shreds the paper, and mixes it with the tears of little girls and the yelps of kicked puppies.
4. The mixture creates a scrying pool with which Jobs can see every action the user makes.
5. Jobs sends his color coded ninjas out after determining that the user is not Neo or a Power Ranger.
6. The ninjas capture the user and drag him or her back to Cupertino.
7. The user is fitted with his iChip. This device will revolutionize the way people think. Literally.
8. The user then gets a username on Phonearena and starts defending everything Apple does while bashing all of Apple's competitors.
9. Deep underground, in his healing iEvilchamber, Steve Jobs smiles. And devours another small cute animal.
39. Sniggly (Posts: 7182; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Come on, you didn't even chuckle? I wrote it just for you. I'm so hurt now. :(
42. applesauce (unregistered)
That was good, though a bit inaccurate: they don't take them to cupertino, they take them to the nearest apple store (which is why they have crapple sections at Best Buy and such now) and implant them there.
They also do more indiscriminate things as well, just for the whole Stockholm Syndrome effect. But iFail fans already are used to that sort of treatment, and have learned to enjoy it. They even look forward to it, every June and September when the newest iFail and Muckinturd comes out