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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 -
      anyone tried that "untratrackerd" in cydia? does it work?
    1. urwack's Avatar
      urwack -
      is staying inside today to avoid the pig poop from the pigs flying in the sky
    1. cranie's Avatar
      cranie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nyra98 View Post
      I like how its called a bug now
      What once was a bug, is now a feature
    1. konrads's Avatar
      konrads -
      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.
    1. fishbone's Avatar
      fishbone -
      Sorry, but to me this is a typical example of a biased article about a quite reasonable answer, that was not needed in the first place. The guy even says it's bull before transcribe the whole text, what a cheap move!

      But hey, that's media on the internet era, right? Everybody have the opportunity to take a bite of the big dog to borrow some publicity and walk away smiling... don't you love the web?
    1. Rapt0r7's Avatar
      Rapt0r7 -
      I wonder if there's anything else like this that we don't know about?
    1. iliveudie's Avatar
      iliveudie -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpotoso View Post
      Quite the contrary. They are reacting to a big big big blunder of their part. The correct option would have been for this to have never appeared as an issue, that is for apple to have programmed their database cache to be reasonable, and not the way it currently is.
      Thanks captain obvious. I'm pretty sure the correct option to prevent the Sony scandal going on right now would have been programming it correctly, and not the way it currently is as well.

      You completely missed my point with your rebuttal. Let me break it down for you.

      In my previous comment "us" was referring to the users stressing over this "unauthorized tracking of locations" (even though we agreed in the Terms and Conditions, in a way). In Apple's response, they basically bashed "us" by stating they do not keep the data, it's anonymous, and it's used to aid location services; the exact opposite of what this entire hype was about.
    1. RedDwarf2010's Avatar
      RedDwarf2010 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Agustin View Post
      anyone tried that "untratrackerd" in cydia? does it work?
      Works like a charm.
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      Quote Originally Posted by steve-z17 View Post
      Apple wasn't doing anything wrong here, the media just made a huge deal about it so Apple had to say something about it. Obviously they don't need to store so much of the data and back it up to the computer, but outside of that I think being able to see where I've been is pretty cool.
      What...
    1. kingat702's Avatar
      kingat702 -
      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"
    1. GrandMstrBud's Avatar
      GrandMstrBud -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nyra98 View Post
      I like how its called a bug now
      Yeah I feel the same way, a bug my @$$
    1. Paingod's Avatar
      Paingod -
      people are going all crazy about this kinda "OH no apple stored my location agin" i bet if I go on Facebook i'll find thousands of people telling about where they checked in right now and half of them even check in when they are on the toilet.
    1. iliveudie's Avatar
      iliveudie -
      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"
      You are the naive person! What makes you believe the android and htc doesn't track your data? Is it same corporate D-Bags that told you Apple doesn't? Is it the wall street journalists who would never lie to you? Or is it the hackers who have yet to find how they track us, even though it took forensics over a year to find this one?

      You tell me, Sir Kingat, what makes you believe they don't track you? And what makes you believe it all wasn't just a "mistake" on Apple's part?
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Apple is getting soft without Jobs at the helm, Jobs would never allowed admitting to even a bug in the programming. Apple is infallible!!!

      Quote Originally Posted by iliveudie View Post
      You are the naive person! What makes you believe the android and htc doesn't track your data? Is it same corporate D-Bags that told you Apple doesn't? Is it the wall street journalists who would never lie to you? Or is it the hackers who have yet to find how they track us, even though it took forensics over a year to find this one?

      You tell me, Sir Kingat, what makes you believe they don't track you? And what makes you believe it all wasn't just a "mistake" on Apple's part?
      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.

      Quote Originally Posted by Paingod View Post
      people are going all crazy about this kinda "OH no apple stored my location agin" i bet if I go on Facebook i'll find thousands of people telling about where they checked in right now and half of them even check in when they are on the toilet.
      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!
    1. cpotoso's Avatar
      cpotoso -
      Quote Originally Posted by iliveudie View Post
      Thanks captain obvious. I'm pretty sure the correct option to prevent the Sony scandal going on right now would have been programming it correctly, and not the way it currently is as well.

      You completely missed my point with your rebuttal. Let me break it down for you.

      In my previous comment "us" was referring to the users stressing over this "unauthorized tracking of locations" (even though we agreed in the Terms and Conditions, in a way). In Apple's response, they basically bashed "us" by stating they do not keep the data, it's anonymous, and it's used to aid location services; the exact opposite of what this entire hype was about.
      So... typical of apple: blame the user for their own faults and use fanboys to mitigate reasonable criticism. They also said you were not holding it right. Yeah, right. As for the T&C, they have not really been proven binding in any court of law (nobody has ever dared to test them... just in case they end-up being found completely non-binding in a public way).
    1. TheGrandFinale2001's Avatar
      TheGrandFinale2001 -
      Wow Apple, I'm not even sure how to wrap my head around it. But if they have to call it a "bug" to fix the problem then so be it. That's the best we are gonna get any ways.
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheGrandFinale2001 View Post
      Wow Apple, I'm not even sure how to wrap my head around it. But if they have to call it a "bug" to fix the problem then so be it. That's the best we are gonna get any ways.
      If you want more you can contact bloomberg to find out the lawfirm that is doing the lawsuit against Apple, join in along with the original 2 people to get a share of the pie.
    1. x12_Carnage's Avatar
      x12_Carnage -
      Lmao oh so it's a bug now?
      Whatever you say apple :P
    1. Rescuer's Avatar
      Rescuer -
      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



      i love the smokescreen here. 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"
    1. x12_Carnage's Avatar
      x12_Carnage -
      Lmao @ apple