• Did you order new AirTags? We've opened a dedicated AirTags forum.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
52,950
14,695



122037-core_location_map.jpg
Apple today officially acknowledged the growing controversy over the logging of location data on the iPhone and iPad. The document comes in a Q&A format. In it, Apple addresses some common concerns and explicitly states that it is not tracking the location of your iPhone/iPad, has never done so, and has no plans to do so.

Apple goes on to explain the reason for the logging of data:Why is my iPhone logging my location?
The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, its 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 phones 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.Apple states that all data that is transmitted to Apple is anonymous and encrypted and can not be tied to the identity of the user. The company also notes findings that the database continues to grow despite location services being off is a bug that will soon be addressed.

Apple is planning on releasing a free iOS update in the next few weeks that performs the following:

- 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.

Article Link: Apple Officially Addresses Location Data Controversy
 

canyonblue737

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2005
1,473
1,267
That's good enough for me.

Apple's only screw up here was keeping the infinite database forever on your phone and backed up to your Mac. Their was no reason to back it up to the computer and no reason to keep the data on the phone after it was passed to Apple (encrypted, de-identified etc.) but I suspect the reason was simply "we weren't doing anything bad with it so we never even considered we should delete it later."

Good job Apple. Now let's move on to someone else, like freakin' Sony and their Playstation network.
 
Comment

macse30

macrumors regular
Jul 30, 2009
196
0
I wish they would leave it on and let me use it. I consider it a feature. It would help me track hours at job sites automatically for billing. I thought of writing an app just for that.
 
Comment

Full of Win

macrumors 68030
Nov 22, 2007
2,615
1
Ask Apple
This is a lie

The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location,

Keeping a database of our general location is logging our location. :mad: Does Apple really think this double talk, where they say they keep a database of location but don't log the location is going to fly?

At least our overlord will now, I hope, stop collecting location data when location services are turned off. It's a disgrace that it took a media storm to shame them into action.
 
Last edited:
Comment

Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
4,949
600
London, UK
Poo. I'd rather have the option to keep backing up that cache file to iTunes. I like the ability to see a map of where I've been using the iPhoneTracker app. :(
 
Comment

steadysignal

macrumors 6502a
Dec 21, 2010
723
1
This is a lie



Keeping a database is logging ourbgeneral location. :mad:

correct. wasn't sure how long it would take for people in general to get up in arms about location privacy on the idevices... what did people think was going to happen??

such it is, our electronic tethers are really leashes.
 
Comment

NebulaClash

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2010
1,810
0
I thought they said that there was not any concerns?

There aren't any concerns, but since the media hyped this up so much, they had to address it. Now they have. Should be the end of the story. But it won't be since there are anti-Apple folks who will push to keep this story alive as long as they can until the next Apple-gate story gets created.
 
Comment

Intarweb

macrumors 6502a
May 30, 2007
561
0
I wonder if this is why I can no longer get more than a days charge on my iPhone 4 with minimal use since it seems like it's an always on thing.
 
Comment

samcraig

macrumors P6
Jun 22, 2009
16,637
41,619
USA
I'm glad they're fixing this "bug"

But their response is utter crap. They know it - and now everyone knows it.

As reports came out over a year ago about this - it's only after this tremendous bad press that they "found" it. Mhhhmmmm sure.
 
Comment

DennisVR

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2008
46
0
I don't understand all the commotion. If Steve wants to know where i'm hanging around in the weekend, he can :rolleyes:
 
Comment

kenypowa

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2008
697
25
somewhere
Funny comment from Engadget:

Q: Why is my iphone tracking me?
A: It's not. It's tracking networks and cell towers near wherever you go.

Q: What is the difference between tracking me, and tracking the towers wherever I happen to go? Isn't that the same thing?
A: No. Because it's crowd-sourced. Total crowd size = 1.

Q: Umm. Ok? Soo. Why have you been keeping logs for the past year?
A: That was a bug.

Q: Then why was it unencrypted?
A: That was a bug.

Q: Right. Then why when I opted out did it ignore my choice?
A: That was a bug.
 
Comment

Reddmanz

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2010
169
0
Since I'm neither a criminal nor paranoid, I thought it was kind of cool/interesting too.

I was looking forward to seeing mine seeing as I've been doing a lot of travelling last few months, then I remembered I'm still running 3.1.3.
 
Comment

eawmp1

macrumors 601
Feb 19, 2008
4,143
18
FL
I thought looking at my location histories was interesting. I, too, have no delusions that I cannot be tracked (cell phone, credit card purchases, etc.) I wonder if all the paranoids realize that any GPS camera encodes that information in the image. Share that photo online and anyone can get the metadata with location of photograph.

You wanna be connected, you can't be truly anonymous.
You wanna be anonymous, sell you computer, smart phone, cut up credit cards, and move to an undocumented shack in the middle of nowhere with no utilities.
 
Comment

NebulaClash

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2010
1,810
0
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.

So while it is true that the iPhone does note Wi-Fi locations in your general area, and thus it does "track" you in that sense, it is only on your Mac that this information can actually track you. The information sent to Apple is anonymized, and thus not trackable to you.

Apple is NOT tracking you. Your phone creates a database that could track you IF SOMEONE HAS ACCESS TO YOUR MAC. But if that happens, they already know everything there is to know about you anyway and have no need to check your Wi-Fi database. They've got your Address Book info, your bank site links and cookies, your email, your personal letters, etc.

The only reason to slam Apple is for not culling this local database. Now they will. But Apple was NEVER tracking you. Apple is not lying when they say that.
 
Comment

acies909

macrumors newbie
Oct 16, 2007
13
0
Harrison Twp, MI
This is a lie



Keeping a database of our general location is logging our location. :mad: Does Apple really think this double talk, where they say they keep a database of location but don't log the location is going to fly?

At least our overlord will now, I hope, stop collecting location data when location services are turned off. It's a disgrace that it took a media storm to shame them into action.

The fact is that the iPhone is logging the location of the near by hot spot and cell tower. So if the cell tower is 50 miles away is some instances it is tracking that information not that the GPS location of your phone 50 miles from your phone. If you did the tracking thing on your computer and saw the map with your info, you would notice that some of the dots are places that you probably have never been. When I did and I went up to Northern Michigan it was tracking information approx 60 miles from the road I was on. This is why I never worried about this cause I knew it wasn't actually tracking my iPhones GPS location rather the nearest cell or Wifi location.
 
Comment

Rafterman

Contributor
Apr 23, 2010
2,898
2,340
Since I'm neither a criminal nor paranoid, I thought it was kind of cool/interesting too.

Its not about being a criminal or paranoid. This data is for the sole purpose of marketers to sell us crap.

Well, I'm tired of seeing ads everywhere I turn. You can't go to the bathroom now without seeing a ad shoved in your face and its becoming tiresome.

It reminds me of a line from Futurama:

Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?"

Fry: Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no siree.

Well, Fry could have added our iPads and our phones too. Its disgusting already how much advertising has infiltrated our lives. You can't even read a news story on the internet without an ad being being intrusively shoved in your face.
 
Comment

ECUpirate44

macrumors 603
Mar 22, 2010
5,750
8
NC
I think it's kind of cool. How do I see the tracking map before Apple throws out the update :eek:
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.