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  (Source: icanhascheezburger)
The distortion field is failing Capt'n! She can't take much more of it!

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) released a lengthy press statement in the wake of the revelation that iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) were storing details about their users' locations thousands of times daily.  The release follows international investigations into Apple by the U.S. government and several other nations.

In the release Apple amazingly admits it was wrong.  It says that it did not intend for the phones to plots users' position when Location Services were disabled.  It writes:

7. When I turn off Location Services, why does my iPhone sometimes continue updating its Wi-Fi and cell tower data from Apple’s crowd-sourced database?

It shouldn’t. This is a bug, which we plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below).

Apple claims its intentions were pure in implementing the database -- to improve signal capturing.  And while it says the database can pinpoint a user's location within a small radius, it's maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers at your current location.  

The company writes:

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, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements). These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple.

4. Is this crowd-sourced database stored on the iPhone?

The entire crowd-sourced database is too big to store on an iPhone, so we download an appropriate subset (cache) onto each iPhone. This cache is protected but not encrypted, and is backed up in iTunes whenever you back up your iPhone. The backup is encrypted or not, depending on the user settings in iTunes. The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone’s location, which can be more than one hundred miles away from the iPhone. We plan to cease backing up this cache in a software update coming soon (see Software Update section below).

In short, based on what Apple is telling the public, it was only trying to help customers, not track them.  The news follows a similar announcement by Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, who recently wrote a customer telling them that Apple was not collecting the information its devices were storing.

However, it is baffling how Apple would not notice that the software switch to turn off Location Services wasn't working.  This bug represents a privacy risk and led to Apple inadvertently misinforming customers for almost a year.

Apple says it plans to issue an update "[s]ometime in the next few weeks", which will disable the copying of a backup of the database to your computer, will reduce the database's size, and will properly delete it when you turn off locations services. 

The company is facing a class action lawsuit on behalf of customers who want refunds and punitive damages after discovering about the violation of privacy.



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RE: Oh my god!
By themaster08 on 4/28/2011 3:29:53 AM , Rating: 2
Everyone knows Apple is wrong. Apple themselves have admitted to being wrong. Its fans are still unable to fathom putting Apple and wrong into the same sentence.

Go figure.


RE: Oh my god!
By Tony Swash on 4/28/2011 9:42:57 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Everyone knows Apple is wrong. Apple themselves have admitted to being wrong. Its fans are still unable to fathom putting Apple and wrong into the same sentence.

Go figure.


Depends what you mean. Apple say 'sorry we made a mistake it was a bug -- we will sort it out. By the way we don't collect data which can identify the location of specific individuals'.

That seems clear cut and a not very big deal. Lots of people, most of whom I presume do not actually own Apple products as the company obviously infuriates them, say its a big deal. Why?

Do you think Apple is lying and has actually been collecting the details of individual's movements and locations in a way that could actually track individuals? That's a pretty giant piece of work, must take lots of resources, is there any evidence Apple have actually done this? Why would they do it? How could such a vast undertaking be exploited commercially?

As soon as the story broke I downloaded the app so I could read my own stored data on my iPhone. I was duly presented with a map showing in a very broad brush fashion my movements over the last few months. I spend most of my time in central London and once week take a journey out to it's south western suburbs. I zoomed in the map and noticed the location pins were not very accurate, just broadly in the right area but not actually showing any detail about where I had been.

And that was it.

I almost immediately lost interest.

I would prefer, if pressed, not to be tracked in this way but it doesn't bother me and I am happy to wait for a bug fix to sort it. Obviously if I had been travelling to south west London to screw my mistress and if I thought my wife might download the app, get hold of my iPhone and look at the map I might have been a bit more bothered. Most people won't be worried about stuff like that.

For the vast bulk of Apple customers this is not a big deal. It's not even a small deal. It's a non-deal.

It reminds me of antennagate when the people most frothing at the mouth about it were people who didn't actually own iPhones. Why? What sort of bizarre emotional investment is involved in getting het up about a feature or a fault in a product you don't own? Seems a bit odd and unhealthy to me


"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer














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