Apple has denied claims that they are tracking users locations on their iPhones and iPads. Today, the company addressed the claims that started earlier this month when a Wired magazine reporter Brian X. Chen broke the story that he could map of all of the locations he had been in with his phone. Chen did so using an open source program created by software hackers Peter Warden and Alasdair Allen, called iPhone Tracker.
Apple clarified how their tracking works with the statement: “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).” Apple claims to use this data not on an individual basis, but rather on a “crowd-sourced” basis, “sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple.”
Still, not everyone is buying this. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Bloomberg: “That’s exactly how they determine the location of the device. They are keeping location data and the statement is a little misleading on that point.”
He’s got a point. Let’s not forget that iPhone Tracker worked.