Apple has finally admitted snooping on it’s users and released a software update after complaints that iPhones and iPads were secretly recording locations.The issue only came to light when security researchers found a hidden file on the devices containing a record of everywhere they had been.
Dr Search posted the story on the Search Clinic blog last month at: Apple in iPhone location tracking data snooping storm
At the time Apple denied that it has used the information to track user location and blamed a bug in the software.
The update, which is available through the iTunes store, cuts the amount of stored data to just a week and no longer transfers it to the owner’s computer when the phone is connected.
And if users disable the location services setting on their iPhone or iPad, it will stop collecting data completely.
It transpires that permission for the tracking was given by users, albeit hidden away in the terms and conditions for the iTunes store.
The data was logged via cell towers and wi-fi access points.
The storage of the data was brought to light in a blog post from researchers Alasdair Allan and Peter Warden.
At the time Mr Allan said that he did not think there was “any sort of conspiracy going on”.
“However, we’re both worried about this level of detailed location data being out there in the wild. While the cell phone operators already have this data, it takes a court order to obtain it from them. You can now do the equivalent by simply leaving your iPhone in a bar. That doesn’t seem right to me.”
Many smartphone owners chose to voluntarily opt in to location tracking services such as Foursquare and Mobile Me but there is rising concern about how companies use such data.
Later this month Apple and Google are due to testify at a US senate hearing on mobile privacy as the firms come under increasing pressure to reveal how they collect and store location data.
Smartphones running Google’s Android operating system also store data but it is an opt-in service, according to the firm.