Apple Q&A on tracking location data: “we don't do it,” not exactly

Apple Q&A on tracking location data: “we don't do it,” not exactly

Did you know that your iPhone 4 istracking your location data? You might not have been informed upuntil a week ago when what seems to have been quietly discoveredmonths ago by a research group finally made it to the headlines. Butis it true? Apple claims that it's not. Not exactly.

“1. Why is Apple tracking thelocation of my iPhone?

Apple is not tracking the location ofyour iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”

Wait, you must be slightly confusedafter it was confirmed that it not only tracks the position of youriPhone, but it does so in an unencrypted file, which is also backedup to your PC everytime you back up your handset. This means thateveryone in the know looking for it, might have a personal record ofyour travels for a whole year. The ability to have a complete recordof your location might sound cool at first, but having it unencryptedshould make it slightly disturbing even for the most liberal of usersout there.

“3. Why is my iPhone logging mylocation?

The iPhone is not logging yourlocation. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots andcell towers around your current location, some of which may belocated more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone”

Is Apple saying here that it's notrecording your location with absolute precision?Technically Cupertino is right – it only tracks the positionof cell towers, but the final result is arguably the same as you geta rather accurate estimate of your location through cell towertriangulation.

While knowing your position inenvironments where GPS would have taken a lot of time is undoubtedlybeneficial, the security issue remains unaddressed. Cupertino wasactually surprised to find out it's collecting a year worth ofyour iPhone's location, while it was only supposed to gatherinformation about a week. Luckily, that's going to change in anupcoming update:

“The reason the iPhone storesso 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 ofthis data.”

The irony of it all is that Steve Jobshimself stood up to quite convincingly make the point that iOS is absolutely secure. We would hate to blow this out ofproportion, but it seems that with all privacy measures, the amountof data collected could be endangered. Bugs are inevitable,but the bottom line is that it's honorable that Apple came up with anofficial statement and an update is now pending. And being reassuredabout 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 knowyour thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

source: Apple



1. iwebdroidberry7

Posts: 230; Member since: Jan 17, 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: 418; Member since: Mar 30, 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: 481; Member since: Jul 05, 2010

Totally agree with you! They should just apologize so we can all move on with our lives!

13. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 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: Sep 09, 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: Sep 09, 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: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 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: Sep 09, 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: Sep 09, 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: Jun 11, 2010

Triangulation is only acuarate to about 50 meters, thats hardly "exactly where the person is"

7. 3MTA3 unregistered

Spoken like a true sheep

51. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

haha ur so funnnyyyyyyyyy.. not...

3. PhoneLuver

Posts: 481; Member since: Jul 05, 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: Jan 26, 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: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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: Feb 12, 2010

Most likely not if it's only logging cell towers. But who knows what the fruity software is doing.

10. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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: Sep 09, 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: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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: Sep 09, 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: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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: Sep 09, 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: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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: Sep 09, 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: Sep 09, 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.

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