Apple Wasn’t ‘Secretly’ Collecting iPhone Location Data


appleADOTAS – In June of last year I wrote a story entitled: “Just What Does Apple Plan To Do With My Location Data?

With the launch of the iPhone 4 and iOS 4.0, Apple added this paragraph to its privacy policy: “To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.”

Almost a year later, outrage is all over the tech media as a few researchers discovered the file that houses this data. The iPhone logs a user’s precise geo-location up to 100 times a day and saves it in a file that is synced with a user’s computer. The real news is that the file is supposedly not very secure.

But Apple hasn’t been collecting this date there secretly; it was right there in the privacy policy and a number of media outlets — check out articles from The L.A. Times and GigaOm — wrote about the addition of that paragraph.

Business Insider’s Henry Blodgett asks, “Why no public outrage?” That’s easy to answer — too many people blindly trust Apple. I’ve got nothing to hide, it don’t matter if they got my locations! Besides, Apple is collecting the data “anonymously,” whatever that means.

Also most of us have come to accept the digital surveillance state. We’ve come to accept it as a consequence of technological convenience that we’re constantly monitored by our own devices. Modern life does get a bit more like a Philip K. Dick novel every day.

My question is, why the delayed outrage from the government? Why did it take nearly a year for Senator Al Franken to write a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking why this information is kept?

I can’t think of anything else new to say — I wrote it all last year:

“Don’t give me that ‘trust us’ bullshit — why won’t Apple just come out with some bullet points, a PowerPoint presentation (OK, maybe not PowerPoint) that details how long the location data will be stored, who exactly it will be shared with and the various ways it will be used, not some limp example like ‘providing better apps….’

“This is why federal regulation is necessary — it would certainly make consumer worry warts sleep a little easier knowing that an agency is watching out for them.

“Stifle competition and business? That’s crap — companies should want their users comfortable with how their information is being used. You really think it’s better business to leave your customers worried about who’s tracking their every move?”


  1. somebody ought to tell congress that cellphone companies know exactly where we are too… (time to break out the tin foil hats!)


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