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  • Apple Answers Geo-Data Questions


    In response to questions raised by two US House members, Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX), Apple general counsel and senior vice president of legal and government affairs Bruce Sewell has written a 13-page letter explaining how the company uses geographic data collected from its mobile and desktop devices. In the midst of all the corporate-speak and assurances there are a few interesting details about what information Apple obtains, and who they share it with.

    On June 24, the chairmen of the US House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), sent a letter to Steve Jobs asking about Apple's updated privacy policy that acknowledged for the first time that Apple is collecting, storing and sharing geo-data.“Given the limited ability of Apple users to opt out of the revised policy and still be able to take advantage of the features of their Apple products," the representatives wrote, "we are concerned about the impact the collection of such data could have on the privacy of Apple’s customers."

    In the response, Apple chief lawyer Sewell lets slip the fact that Apple had been sharing geo-data with both Google and Skyhook, who provided location services to pre-iPad versions of iPhone OS. In iOS 3.2 and newer versions, Apple is using its own geographic information servers to determine the location of Apple devices. Their database, which is supposedly stripped of all identifying information, includes geo-coords for cell towers, WiFi access points, and iDevice GPS chips. Sewell says the company doesn't collect SSIDs or any IDs from the GPS chips, which are batched, encrypted and transmitted to the main database in a block once every 12 hours. iPhones and iPads generate a random ID every 24 hours, which reportedly cannot be used to identify a specific device.

    Sewell also says that the geo-coords collected from a mobile device with iAd location sharing enabled is converted immediately into a five-digit US ZIP Code, and the latitude and longitude information is deleted, leaving only the ZIP. He claims that the company will store that data for six months just so that users won't have to see from seeing duplicate ads. After that, the data is "aggregated" into regional data, with even specific ZIP codes removed.

    In a Knowledge Base article, Apple explains that users can opt-out of iAd's location and interest-based ad serving by going to http://oo.apple.com/ and waiting for the "You have successfully opted out" message. They warn, however, that ads may then "may be less relevant because they will not be based on your interests." Oh noes.

    Source: Cult of Mac
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Answers Geo-Data Questions started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. bluerocker's Avatar
      bluerocker -
      So let me get this right. Apple can still track and find me sitting in my house, somewhere in Vietnam, searching the internet for stuff, even though I can't track my self using location services
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bluerocker View Post
      So let me get this right. Apple can still track and find me sitting in my house, somewhere in Vietnam, searching the internet for stuff, even though I can't track my self using location services
      Anyone can track you at anytime if they want.
    1. bluerocker's Avatar
      bluerocker -
      Quote Originally Posted by cerote View Post
      Anyone can track you at anytime if they want.
      Dude, then why can't i find myself
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bluerocker View Post
      Dude, then why can't i find myself
      Sounds philosophical.


      You can it is just they have better tools of finding you than some public app.
    1. santacruzlocal's Avatar
      santacruzlocal -
      What the EFF ever ... Just take over the whole world already will you apple, So I can move on with my life!!!