Apple: Us? Track You? Never Planned To, Never Will

  • Share
  • Read Later

Squaring off with the U.S. Senate, Apple’s singing a privacy-friendlier song that ought to please location-tracking skeptics—assuming they buy what Cupertino’s selling.

Appearing with Google and Facebook before the Senate’s Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee, Apple Vice President of Worldwide Government Affairs Catherine Novelli grappled with questions that invariably turned to recent news about Apple’s iPhone tucking away your location coordinates in a surreptitious iOS file. The concern was that someone could grab the file and see precisely where you’ve been.

(More on Hidden iPhone File Records Your Location Coordinates)

Did Apple track the location of his iPhone? asked Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) at one point.

“No,” replied Novelli, then adding “Apple does not track users’ locations… Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”

It’s a somewhat elusive answer, but then Blunt’s question wasn’t clear. Did he mean “Apple the company with servers capturing location services files”? Or simply “Apple as emblematic of its devices”? If the latter, the answer’s yes, Apple did track users’ locations, had long done so, and to a certain functional extent, continues to.

(More on New iPhone Update Addresses Location Tracking Issues)

That said, Apple patched iOS a couple weeks ago to downsize the location database and prevent it from being backed up when you sync your iOS device with iTunes. Moreover, the company added an option to disable Location Services entirely, which prevents it from storing trip data altogether.