Apple: Everything Shady We've Done Is A Bug

Posted: Apr 27 2011, 5:38pm CDT | by , in News | Apple


Apple: Everything Shady We've Done is a Bug

It's alright guys, your iPhone totally did all that stalking on its own.

Good news, everyone! You know that huge story about every iPhone collecting your location data for a whole year in an unencrypted file? It turns out none of that was really a problem. We all had it wrong. See, it was a glitch and it wasn't really your location data.

"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."

Right. Yes. No one is disagreeing with that, Apple. The reason we called it "logging your location" is because the iPhone is, in fact, logging data that can be used to get a broadly accurate picture of your position on earth. While it isn't exact coordinates, it's still enough for someone to track you down to a city. Probably even a neighborhood.

Should Apple store this kind of data? Absolutely. It speeds things up and leads to far less drain on the battery. But the data collected should be encrypted by default. And there is no good reason to store a full year of information. Which Apple cops to:

"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."

Ah, so it's just a bug. No one's fault- super convenient! And the fact that opting-out of Location Services doesn't actually stop the iPhone from logging its location?

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

So, two bugs and one tortured definition. It's not location data, it's the location of things that are generally near you. We aren't violating your privacy, we just mucked up and left in two bugs that happen to do just that, even if you opt-out. But hey, at least these issues will be fixed. And Apple was good enough to re-commit themselves to privacy:

"Apple will continue to be one of the leaders in strengthening personal information security and privacy."

We'll keep that in mind the next time a bug ignores our stated privacy preference.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
Robert can be contacted directly at




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