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Apple to update iOS to deal with Location Data; Denies tracking users

Posted by on 27/04/2011

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Apple has announced that it will release an updated version of its iOS software to deal with some of the concerns addressed by many users with regards to the recent Location logging “fiasco”. They have also denied that logged location data is used to track individuals.

The next update will reduce to the number of Hotspots stored in the iPhone cache, and that logs will be stored in encrypted format. For those who choose to opt-out and turn off their location tracker, iOS will automatically delete stored logs permanently. This comes after researchers “discovered” a cache file on an iPhone, allowing them to use mapping software to build a picture of all locations where the iPhone logged onto hotspots. While the issue hasn’t exactly been totally in the dark, the recent report was blown up by various media outlets, putting a lot of pressure on Apple.

In an interview, Apple stated their company does not use gathered Wifi Hotspot data to track its users, but rather develop a large “crowd sourced” database to better help iPhone owners determine how far Wifi spots are from their mobile phone, with the use of GPS. They say that it can take several minutes for the phone to independently work out how far a Wifi hotspot is from the mobile device, thus they have taken it upon themselves to have a database generated, so that the distance can be displayed in a much shorter time period. They mentioned that data is collected anonymously, so it would be impossible to tell who sent in what Wifi locations, disabling their chances of pin-pointing a particular individual.

They did admit that subsets of the large database are stored in unencrypted format on various iPhones, thus allowing users to use programs to develop a graphical image of their Wifi hotspot list. Apple also reminded the media that those stored locations were actually of the Wifi spots and not the actual location of the iPhone user. They also mentioned that the stored caches on the iPhone headsets covered too long a period, and that the size will be addressed in the next update.

In the final notes, Apple reiterated their concern for users’ security and promised to do whatever is necessary to keep their customers as informed and safe as possible. While the whole situation seems to have been blown out of proportion, there definitely was need for that stored cache to be kept in encrypted format, maybe to prevent certain things like this from happening.

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  • http://derangedshaman.com Derangedshaman

    Apple mess up on this one big time.

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