Apple responds to government inquiries about iPhone location tracking

Apple responded to governmental concerns about the location-tracking capabilities of its iOS devices (like the Apple iPhone 4 and iPad) by saying it clearly spells out that it is doing it and that users can turn this off or just not agree to set up an account.

As you may recall, Apple recently changed the terms of service to enable it to track users’ location data and it had the right to share this data with partners, including advertisers. Sounds nefarious, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

First of all, Android does the same thing, as this type of data could potentially be used for powerful location-based services. Sure, this could be (and eventually will be) used to deliver geo-located ads to your Apple iPhone but it could also be used to greatly enhance your mobile social networking experience.

Some government representatives wanted to know what Apple planned to do with this data from the iPhone and iPad and Apple responded in a 13-page letter. The company answered the questions it was asked and responded in the manner which we all expected.

The company said it posted the changes in clear view when you accept the new terms for iTunes and the iOS devices. Additionally, it said the tracking features that will be implemented with iOS use anonymous latitude and longitude data that’s immediately converted to a ZIP code. This is never associated with an individual device and the advertisers won’t see the ZIP codes.

The response seemed to please the government officials for the most part.

“While I applaud Apple for responding to our questions, I remain concerned about privacy policies that run on for pages and pages. I hope every business that uses information for advertising and marketing purposes will work toward more transparency and complete disclosure about their practices, as well as robust security for the information they hold,” said Rep. Joe Barton, in a prepared statement.

[Via CNET, read the full response here]

  • Michael_Martin

    Core difference is that you are provided an opt out message everytime you start GPS on Android phones while there is NO opt out on iOS devices.

    There is an opt out on iOS4 devices ONLY for personal iTunes purchasing data under the guise of opting out of iAds, but you still get iAds although they arent personalized.

    • marinperez

      Great point.

  • James Pope

    Who cares. People that do just have something to hide.

  • O.M.G.

    "First of all, Android does the same thing,…"

    So is this the new fanboy justification to everything: the others are doing it as well?

Back to top ▴