One week after data scientists discovered the iPhone was tracking peoples' every move, Apple has officially responded. "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone," said the company in a statement on its website. Though field tests have shown that an iPhone user's location information is transmitted to Apple's offices, the company denied that it uses the information. On top of that, the company said the iPhone doesn't even store your location information to begin with. "The iPhone is not logging your location," states the company. "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."
The company said the fact that location data is stored on the phone for a year is a glitch and it would be fixing the issue soon. It also said that it's not supposed to track people after they disable the iPhone's location services, which it will also fix. The explanation that the phone doesn't track your specific location strikes us as a bit odd since bloggers have studied their location information and say it gets it dead on "block by block." Gizmodo's Sam Biddle sums it up like this: "The bottom line here is that Apple's (implicitly) admitting they screwed up, and despite their doublespeak denial of location logging, are going to be fixing the location logging." Meanwhile, Nilay Patel at Joshua Topolsky's work-in-progress tech site is slightly more satisfied:
Overall... it appears that Apple’s next iOS update will address the majority of the issues. Removing the unencrypted location cache from your computer will solve the biggest immediate problem, and reducing the size of the on-device cache to just seven days will address some of the privacy concerns, as will the ability to disable the caching entirely. Encrypting the on-device database in the next major update should take care of the rest — at least until the next minor scandal breaks out, anyway. In the meantime, you should definitely encrypt your iPhone backups in iTunes, if you haven’t already — a little peace of mind is just a checkbox away.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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