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Apple CEO Steve Jobs insists that his company's "magical" iPhones and iPads don't track customers -- despite glaring evidence to the contrary. He accused rival Android -- which has recently been beating Apple in market share -- of tracking customers. He offered no evidence to support his claims.
Apple CEO offers no evidence to support his claims

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs is fond of describing his sleek electronic gadgets-cum-fashion statements as "magical".  This week he tried to work a bit of "magic" on the public in the face of major tracking concerns.

Tracking concerns?  What tracking concerns?

That was basically Mr. Jobs' take in a brief email exchange with a customer.

An iPhone user emailed Mr. Jobs, writing:


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.

As he occasionally does, the Apple CEO and tech luminary actually appeared to respond in person to the user.  He writes:

Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false.

Sent from my iPhone

The email was published and ostensibly verified by MacRumors, a popular Apple leaks blog.  It seems likely to be authentic, given that it follows Mr. Jobs' email style -- short, to the point, and short on details.

Mr. Jobs' claims that Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS tracks customers seem to have a bit of foundation.  Android maintains a very limited database of users' location.  However, the database appears to turn off if location services are disabled.  It also is regularly wiped.

By contrast Apple maintains a much larger local database that appears never to be wiped.  The easily visualized file shows in vivid detail where users have been.  It collects data hundreds of times a day.  About the only defense Apple can legitimately muster is that it does not regularly collect the file.

Apple had previously claimed that its iOS devices stop following customers if they turn off location services.  But it now appears that they do not -- the database keeps growing regardless of the setting.  That revelation has led to multiple international officials, including [PDF] United States Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), demanding the company explain itself.

Mr. Jobs has in the past emailed customers about such issues as his company's campaign against pornography and Flash (two of Mr. Jobs' least favorite things).

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RE: He is actually correct.
By Ilfirin on 4/25/2011 4:40:04 PM , Rating: 2
No, you are right - he has it backwards.

The issue with Android, if you can really call it an issue (they anonymize the data), is that it constantly uploads its data to Google but purges data locally.

The very first time you turn on your Android device you get a legal notification telling you they're going to track you. The checkbox defaults to agreed. If you hack your device and get around this screen from ever displaying, obviously the boolean backing that checkbox is going to stay at 0/false, its default value. For 99.99% of the population (that just hit the ok button without even reading the text), however, that means that location tracking is on by default and they're going to transmit your location every few minutes regardless of the screen even being on or you being in any application using location data.

The first time you open Latitude, the same thing happens and, again, for 99.99% of the population they're just going to say 'ok'.

So yes, they've covered their legal bases, but the net effect is the same.

The issue with iOS is that the file is un-encrypted, in a public location and doesn't purge old data. So anyone who knows what they're doing can get that data and use it however they wish (or transmit it to any computer they wish).

RE: He is actually correct.
By omnicronx on 4/25/2011 5:16:16 PM , Rating: 3
he very first time you turn on your Android device you get a legal notification telling you they're going to track you. The checkbox defaults to agreed.
No it asks if you want to submit anonymous data, both GPS and location settings are disabled by default and must be enabled by the user.

I personally have no idea what data is being submitted, but I know for a fact that GPS/AGPS triangulation is not constantly being sent as I've personally logged this data for my own testing. (nothing to do with this, just agps/gps testing)

I bet you would be hard pressed to find a piece of locational data being sent to Google in which you have not been asked first. (and not just within the first agreement) but on an app per app basis, or based on the global setting in the case of native Google apps.

That to me is the big difference here.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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