Apple has responded to claims that it’s secretly recording location data by releasing a software update to combat the problem.Over the last few months the blogs have been alive with the talk off tracking bugs in our smartphones. iPads and iPhones came under particular fire after security researchers found a hidden file on the devices containing a record of everywhere they had been. The information in the file could be extracted using certain software to build a detailed map of where the device had been (and its owner).
Nice Guy Apple
Apple had always denied that it was using the data to track users and blamed a bug in the system. For those worried about this bug they can now download an update through the iTunes store that will cut the amount of stored data to one week and block the data from being transferred to a computer when connected. Alternatively users can disable the location services on their iPhone or iPad altogether.
Users of Apple products give permission for Apple to record location data without their knowledge when they agree to install certain software. The details, as usual, are hidden in the terms and conditions for the iTunes store. Apple uses cell towers and Wi-Fi access points to log data this data is used according to Apple:
“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 100 miles away from your iPhone to help your phone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.”
This data is used to provide the best and quickest service Apple can for its customers.
There has been concern for sometime about this location data, but the debate really got heated last month when Alasdair Allan posted up on radar.oreilly.com. In was in this post that he showed exactly how location data was being collected and how it could be used. Alasdair steered well away from talk of conspiracies but made the astute point that:
“The cell phone companies have always has this data, but it takes a court order to access it. Now this information is sitting in plain view, unprotected from the world.”
The privacy debate will continue to go round and round in circles, but it is nice to know that Apple is doing something to protect its customers.