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  • Hell Freezes Over, Apple Admits Locationgate Went Too Far (Kind of)


    Apple issued a formal response to the Locationgate/iMhere/iGiveupNamingThisThing scandal this morning, admitting the storing of the location cache went too far and the "bug" will be fixed in an upcoming software update. Well it wasn't an outright admission.

    The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below). We don't think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.(Apple)
    This is Apple after all, and this is as close as we'll get to them saying "We #$^#@& up."

    The press release opens with a blanket statement that seems to absolve Apple of all guilt.

    1. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?
    Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.
    This has of course been proven false. This "bug" only became a "bug" when it became headlines and common knowledge amongst most Americans who don't live in caves.

    According to Apple, the location data that your iPhone has been tracking is the location of wifi hotspots and cell towers around your iPhone, some as far away as 100 miles (cell towers not wifi hotspots). This is then used to "to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested." Sounds like they know my location to me...

    Still, this faq goes a long way in showing that Apple knows it flubbed up, even if it never outright says it. Apple explains that none of the data was being stored on their end and was sent back to them "in an anonymous and encrypted form."

    The pending software update will cease the backing up of the location services data, reduce the size of the data, and cease to record the data when location services is turned off.

    Here is the entire press release. Now proceed to pat yourself on the back. A job well done consumers, your privacy and opinions still matter. Sort of.

    Apple Q&A on Location Data

    CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apple would like to respond to the questions we have recently received about the gathering and use of location information by our devices.

    1. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?
    Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

    2. Then why is everyone so concerned about this?
    Providing mobile users with fast and accurate location information while preserving their security and privacy has raised some very complex technical issues which are hard to communicate in a soundbite. Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date.

    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).

    5. Can Apple locate me based on my geo-tagged Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?
    No. This data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple cannot identify the source of this data.

    6. People have identified up to a year's worth of location data being stored on the iPhone. Why does my iPhone need so much data in order to assist it in finding my location today?
    This data is not the iPhone's location data-it is a subset (cache) of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database which is downloaded from Apple into the iPhone to assist the iPhone in rapidly and accurately calculating location. The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below). We don't think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.

    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).

    8. What other location data is Apple collecting from the iPhone besides crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?
    Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years.

    9. Does Apple currently provide any data collected from iPhones to third parties?
    We provide anonymous crash logs from users that have opted in to third-party developers to help them debug their apps. Our iAds advertising system can use location as a factor in targeting ads. Location is not shared with any third party or ad unless the user explicitly approves giving the current location to the current ad (for example, to request the ad locate the Target store nearest them).

    10. Does Apple believe that personal information security and privacy are important?
    Yes, we strongly do. For example, iPhone was the first to ask users to give their permission for each and every app that wanted to use location. Apple will continue to be one of the leaders in strengthening personal information security and privacy.

    Software Update

    Sometime in the next few weeks Apple will release a free iOS software update that:

    reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone,
    ceases backing up this cache, and
    deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

    In the next major iOS software release the cache will also be encrypted on the iPhone.
    Source: Apple
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Hell Freezes Over, Apple Admits Locationgate Went Too Far (Kind of) started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 57 Comments
    1. Agustin's Avatar
      Agustin -
      lol all they have to say next is "its a part of the 911 feature we are implementing into our newer ios builds for our customers safety so if your ever in trouble and need assistance fast such as police ems etc.. your iphone device will automaticly send the 911 operator your exact location and closest hotspot incase they need to google your injury"
    1. Trooper Sam's Avatar
      Trooper Sam -
      This makes more sense to me...after viewing the data, and noticing large omissions in places I'd frequently visited, and large amounts of data in places I hadn't spent much time in, the crowdsource explanation does make sense.
    1. JacquesChirac's Avatar
      JacquesChirac -
      "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"

      This is just a big fat blatant lie. It's complete bulls$%t and it would be foolish for me to believe anything else apple says.

      I installed the cydia mod that prevents the phone from recording that information and has deleted that information, and my GPS localizing time has been completely unaffected. And normal GPS devices, whether on cell phones or not, do not use this data-acquisition nonsense and it does not take them any longer to find your location.
    1. GenesisDH's Avatar
      GenesisDH -
      Quote Originally Posted by JacquesChirac View Post
      "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"

      This is just a big fat blatant lie. It's complete bulls$%t and it would be foolish for me to believe anything else apple says.

      I installed the cydia mod that prevents the phone from recording that information and has deleted that information, and my GPS localizing time has been completely unaffected. And normal GPS devices, whether on cell phones or not, do not use this data-acquisition nonsense and it does not take them any longer to find your location.
      The first part of your post is right, but the second part isn't.

      It actually does take longer for a GPS signal alone to be acquired at first. A-GPS, which is what most cell phones, newer GPS units, and the iPhone uses by default, lessens that time by as much as 10 times.

      My E-71 backup, which can optionally disable A-GPS, can take up to 5 minutes to acquire a location without cell tower or wifi data. With them, it takes 30 seconds or less.

      This locationd thing is almost excusively a log, nothing else.
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      I don't really have problem with the whole locationgate. Then again I'm faithful to my gf (so far) :-)
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rescuer View Post
      [I]no, it's not logging, it's doing something just LIKE logging only we call it something else here at apple, therefore it's not "logging"
      Don't you know logging is what lumberjacks do, there is no lumberjacks in Apple so we are not logging.
    1. Rescuer's Avatar
      Rescuer -
      Quote Originally Posted by unison999 View Post
      Don't you know logging is what lumberjacks do, there is no lumberjacks in Apple so we are not logging.
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      Shoot all phones should track location. BUT!!! Only Police should be able to get the info if a crime was committed (murder, rape etc...). And only the time frame of the suspected crime.

      No different than DNA or someone pointing the finger that is a whitness in a crime. He'll the brain stores locations as well... Lol.

      Of course there are people that think we are always being watched. If that was the case no one would be missing. Plus we would have to hire just about every person in china to watch and track each of us.

      Bottom line....don't commit a crime!!!
    1. Taranis17's Avatar
      Taranis17 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kuhndsn View Post
      Bottom line....don't commit a crime!!!
      Bullcrap.

      We have a legal right to privacy, also known as the right to NOT be watched. Saying, "if you're not committing a crime, then you have nothing to worry about" is a socialist cop-out. Why don't you just hand the cops and your health insurance provider a copy of your DNA profile? You know, "just in case they need it." *wink-wink*

      Is it anyone's business but my own that I'm at Starbucks at 7:04 a.m., or that I'm on 408 between point (a) and point (b) at 6:50? No. Just because I'm not committing a crime does not give the government, a corporation or any other entity the right to know my whereabouts at any given time.

      Paragraph 3. is all I need to read to know that Apple is, indeed, keeping track of the locations of millions of users' iPhones:
      .
      "3. .....The iPhone is not logging your location....it's maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location,....to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. ..... These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a ... database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by ... millions of iPhones sending the ... locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers ... to Apple.
      (edited to remove the "chaff.")

      So it's not logging my location, but it "maintaining" (i.e. sending/receiving data) an Apple-based database of cell towers around my location and sending that information back to Apple while using it to triangulate my position? Gee, that sounds like "logging my location and sending that information to Apple" to me!

      And I (the "confused consumer") am confused? No, I'm not. I see it for what it is. Apple screwed up, and are trying to obfuscate their explanation in plain sight with cute catch-phrases like, "crowd sourced", "geo-tagged", and my personal favorite, "appropriate subset (cache)"

      Hey Stevie J.: Not all of us are as stupid as you think.
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Taranis17 View Post
      Bullcrap.

      We have a legal right to privacy, also known as the right to NOT be watched. Saying, "if you're not committing a crime, then you have nothing to worry about" is a socialist cop-out. Why don't you just hand the cops and your health insurance provider a copy of your DNA profile? You know, "just in case they need it." *wink-wink*

      Is it anyone's business but my own that I'm at Starbucks at 7:04 a.m., or that I'm on 408 between point (a) and point (b) at 6:50? No. Just because I'm not committing a crime does not give the government, a corporation or any other entity the right to know my whereabouts at any given time.

      Paragraph 3. is all I need to read to know that Apple is, indeed, keeping track of the locations of millions of users' iPhones:
      .
      "3. .....The iPhone is not logging your location....it's maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location,....to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. ..... These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a ... database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by ... millions of iPhones sending the ... locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers ... to Apple.
      (edited to remove the "chaff.")

      So it's not logging my location, but it "maintaining" (i.e. sending/receiving data) an Apple-based database of cell towers around my location and sending that information back to Apple while using it to triangulate my position? Gee, that sounds like "logging my location and sending that information to Apple" to me!

      And I (the "confused consumer") am confused? No, I'm not. I see it for what it is. Apple screwed up, and are trying to obfuscate their explanation in plain sight with cute catch-phrases like, "crowd sourced", "geo-tagged", and my personal favorite, "appropriate subset (cache)"

      Hey Stevie J.: Not all of us are as stupid as you think.
      Socialist copout? Really? Wrong description brother.

      Yes you do have a right to privacy. And we all have a right to people not committing crimes. I feel your point but on the flip side WHO cares!

      Lastly things like this are blown way out of proportion sometimes. Before I retired i was in international forensics for 22 years. I can tell you that unless you are a hermit you leave traces of where what and who you are on a daily basis.

      Oh and please... I didn't respond to get you all wound up... I can argue both sides very easily. However, I am a father with kids and tend to look at things like this as need with all the crimes against kids these days. But... unfortunately there are those that would exploit "location tracking" and do more harm than good.
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      I hope this "fix" has an option to opt out. I, for one, appreciate not only the benefit afforded by tower logging, but also the ability to store all location data points to later see where I've been, should I find the urge to do so. All these people act like their whereabouts are a big secret they must hide. Wake up people, no one gives a damn where you have been. Get over yourselves.
    1. creasy425's Avatar
      creasy425 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Taranis17 View Post
      Bullcrap.

      We have a legal right to privacy, also known as the right to NOT be watched. Saying, "if you're not committing a crime, then you have nothing to worry about" is a socialist cop-out. Why don't you just hand the cops and your health insurance provider a copy of your DNA profile? You know, "just in case they need it." *wink-wink*

      Is it anyone's business but my own that I'm at Starbucks at 7:04 a.m., or that I'm on 408 between point (a) and point (b) at 6:50? No. Just because I'm not committing a crime does not give the government, a corporation or any other entity the right to know my whereabouts at any given time.

      Paragraph 3. is all I need to read to know that Apple is, indeed, keeping track of the locations of millions of users' iPhones:
      .
      "3. .....The iPhone is not logging your location....it's maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location,....to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. ..... These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a ... database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by ... millions of iPhones sending the ... locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers ... to Apple.
      (edited to remove the "chaff.")

      So it's not logging my location, but it "maintaining" (i.e. sending/receiving data) an Apple-based database of cell towers around my location and sending that information back to Apple while using it to triangulate my position? Gee, that sounds like "logging my location and sending that information to Apple" to me!

      And I (the "confused consumer") am confused? No, I'm not. I see it for what it is. Apple screwed up, and are trying to obfuscate their explanation in plain sight with cute catch-phrases like, "crowd sourced", "geo-tagged", and my personal favorite, "appropriate subset (cache)"

      Hey Stevie J.: Not all of us are as stupid as you think.
      Well said sir. Well said.
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      I hope this "fix" has an option to opt out. I, for one, appreciate not only the benefit afforded by tower logging, but also the ability to store all location data points to later see where I've been, should I find the urge to do so. All these people act like their whereabouts are a big secret they must hide. Wake up people, no one gives a damn where you have been. Get over yourselves.
      I've had untrackerd installed, tested native google map AND MSN GPS Drive application. Both of them worked at the same speed as before, google traffic is as inaccurate as before. This log is not being used, you would turn the thing off when you notice it is service no purpose.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Quote Originally Posted by javiert30 View Post
      What...
      I don't think I used too many big words in my post....
    1. JacquesChirac's Avatar
      JacquesChirac -
      What's A-GPS?

      How could a log of your wifi from a week ago affect your ability to target your location?
    1. djarkiz's Avatar
      djarkiz -
      Can't u just find that location file in "iFile" and delete it, could have sworn I saw "LocationTdb" under iTunes_Control
    1. The Amazing Atheist's Avatar
      The Amazing Atheist -
      Quote Originally Posted by iliveudie View Post
      Good god! The way Apple responds makes us look the idiots!
      Anyone who thinks they're being tracked by apple deserves it.

      Quote Originally Posted by konrads View Post
      FINE THEM !

      What if next they will install a keylogger just to be able to offer in the future a nebulous "feature" ?

      Why not cache and send to apple my bank accounts info if I use it from the iphone ? Just in case they would ever devise in the future a "feature" to "help" me in case I forgot my password ?

      FINE HIM. Only that way they might stop these constant freedom/privacy violations.
      You're a tool. You joined this site to spew your paranoid half witted comments?

      Quote Originally Posted by kingat702 View Post
      i love how people are so ****** naive!! apple tracks you, its not a bug, they just have really great excuses to make it sound pretty and have people still buy their products! If you guys noticed they keep talking about wifi and cell towers, but they cant give you a croncrete ****** answer!! and they will keep tracking you, even after "the update" they said it themselves. Wake up people!!! other phones like android and htc dont track you and we still get good "accurate information"
      Ahh yet another paranoid post. Let me make this very clear to you.

      No, apple doesn't track you. I mean really, you're THAT special? a multi-billion dollar company just wants to know where you eat and and where you deposit your **** afterwards?

      And you don't think other phones keep track of your location? You my friend are living in the 18th century. EVERY CELL PHONE, ESPECIALLY THE SMART PHONES! keep track of your location via cell towers. Don't want to be "tracked"? Then get off the grid. No cell phones, GPS, sattelite, computers, ipods, etc.

      Quote Originally Posted by unison999 View Post
      Apple is getting soft without Jobs at the helm, Jobs would never allowed admitting to even a bug in the programming. Apple is infallible!!!



      Do you even have an Android? They let owners opt out and turn off the location tracking. Unlike Apple's current setup. Which btw saves a lot of battery.



      They check in with full knowledge of the owner and have option not to use it, this tracking is done in the background on iPhone and no option to turn off!


      They can opt out of that, but it'll still keep track of their location

      Quote Originally Posted by taranis17 View Post
      bullcrap.

      We have a legal right to privacy, also known as the right to not be watched. Saying, "if you're not committing a crime, then you have nothing to worry about" is a socialist cop-out. Why don't you just hand the cops and your health insurance provider a copy of your dna profile? You know, "just in case they need it." *wink-wink*

      Is it anyone's business but my own that i'm at starbucks at 7:04 a.m., or that i'm on 408 between point (a) and point (b) at 6:50? No. Just because i'm not committing a crime does not give the government, a corporation or any other entity the right to know my whereabouts at any given time.

      Paragraph 3. Is all i need to read to know that apple is, indeed, keeping track of the locations of millions of users' iphones:
      .
      "3. .....the iphone is not logging your location....it's maintaining a database of wi-fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location,....to help your iphone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. ..... These calculations are performed live on the iphone using a ... Database of wi-fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by ... Millions of iphones sending the ... Locations of nearby wi-fi hotspots and cell towers ... To apple.
      (edited to remove the "chaff.")

      so it's not logging my location, but it "maintaining" (i.e. Sending/receiving data) an apple-based database of cell towers around my location and sending that information back to apple while using it to triangulate my position? Gee, that sounds like "logging my location and sending that information to apple" to me!

      And i (the "confused consumer") am confused? No, i'm not. I see it for what it is. Apple screwed up, and are trying to obfuscate their explanation in plain sight with cute catch-phrases like, "crowd sourced", "geo-tagged", and my personal favorite, "appropriate subset (cache)"

      hey stevie j.: Not all of us are as stupid as you think.
      who is watching you?!?!!?!?!?!?!!?!?!!?!?!?!!?!?!!?!?!?!!?!?!!?!?! !?!?!?!

      Quote Originally Posted by djarkiz View Post
      Can't u just find that location file in "iFile" and delete it, could have sworn I saw "LocationTdb" under iTunes_Control
      don't delete anything you don't know about, you'll mess up your device and have to restore.