A developer has revealed evidence that Windows Phone devices collect and transmit user location data before users have given the phones permission to do so. The news follows claims Microsoft made to the United States House of Representatives stating that it does not collect or transmit any location data until a Windows Phone user opts in. Windows Phone devices clearly ask for permission regarding the collection of location data — the user must click “allow” in a pop-up dialog box seeking authorization for the camera app to collect positioning data — but it appears as though the OS doesn’t bother to wait for users to opt in before it begins transmitting location information. Read on for more. More →
Following the “Antennagate” scandal that cost Apple zero sales last year, a new “Locationgate” scandal took the media by storm earlier this year that ultimately cost Apple zero sales. It was discovered in late April that the iPhone and 3G-equipped iPads were secretly tracking and storing users’ locations. Apple issued a statement seven days later, claiming the culprit was a bug that would be addressed as soon as possible. Apple also said that it does not track its users or their locations. Some people tend to take things more personally than others — or perhaps they’re out for a quick buck — so lawsuits were inevitable. Thus far, just one single complaint related to Locationgate has resulted in a payout from Apple, and it was awarded to South Korean man Kim Hyung-suk this past May, Reuters reports. What was the damage? 1 million won, which translates to a whopping $945. Kim, a lawyer, said Apple sent the payment last month. More →
Apple has released iOS version 4.3.3 for the iPhone 4 (GSM), iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad and iPod touch (third and fourth generation), just as we reported. The only changes noted by Apple with this release pertain to the location tracking bug discovered recently. Apple states that this release “contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache.” More specifically, the update “reduces the size of the cache,” “no longer backs the cache up to iTunes,” and “deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.” An update carrying similar changes — iOS 4.2.8 — is available for the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 as well.
One of our Apple sources has just informed us that Apple isn’t wasting anytime fixing the infamous location tracking issue in the iPhone and other iOS devices — it’s going to be addressed in an update within the next two weeks, possibly sooner, in iOS version 4.3.3. We’ve been sent the OS and while we haven’t loaded it on our iPhone just yet, here is what we have been told it will address:
- The update will no longer back up the location database to iTunes.
- The size of the location database will be reduced.
- The location database will be deleted entirely when Location Services are turned off.
- Battery life improvements.
- iPod bug fixes.
That’s all we have for now but stay tuned for more!
Last week, the public was up in arms after O’Reilly revealed that Apple was recording and storing the location of its iPad and iPhone users. Not long after that, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google was also tracking and storing the locations of Android users. Even though Google has said all location sharing is opt-in and that all location data is anonymized, Bloomberg is reporting that two Oakland County Michigan residents have filed a lawsuit against Google with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Detroit. The class-action suit asks Google to stop saving smartphone location data, and it also seeks $50 million in damages. The plaintiffs argue that the level at which Google tracks their AT&T HTC Inspire 4G phones would ordinarily require a court-ordered warrant. The case is “Julie Brown v. Google 11-11867, U.S. District, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit),” but we’re not so sure this will end in the favor of the plaintiffs — after all, they did give Google permission. More →
Break out your tin foil hats, people — they’re out to get you. Apple finally issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the recent uproar over iOS devices tracking their owners’ locations, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal will ensure that consumers can continue to cry foul. According to the WSJ, Apple and Google both track users’ locations not only using mobile devices, but also using computers. Apple allegedly collects location information each time its Mac computers scan for wireless networks, and Google is said to collect location data from Wi-Fi connected computers that use its Chrome browser or its search toolbar plug-in with other browsers. The report notes that it is unclear how Apple and Google use this data, and it says in “most cases” the location tracking services are opt-in. More →
The recent rediscovery that Apple’s iPhone is tracking and storing users’ locations — after users all agreed to let Apple track, store and use their locations, of course — has caused quite an uproar. Unlike the last time this was discovered, the ordeal continues to make news nearly a week later instead of being forgotten immediately. In this latest round of outrage, The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Apple’s iPhone continues to collect and store users’ locations even when location services are disabled. The Journal believes that the data is collected using data from cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots as the iPhone communicates with them. This, too, is well within Apple’s rights — and the rights of other cell phone makers — but the revelation is still likely to result in a new round of chatter. Additional reports reveal that government bodies in several countries including South Korea, France and Germany are investigating Apple’s location-tracking practices, and they will likely make formal inquiries once they have enough information t0 do so. More →
In what is purported to be an email exchange with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, a MacRumors reader sent in the following:
Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It’s kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don’t track me.
A: Oh yes they do. We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.
Sent from my iPhone
What’s not clear is whether or not Jobs was indicating that stored location data isn’t actually being sent back to Apple, and is instead only stored locally on the device and in iOS backup files created by iTunes. What is clear according to Jobs, however, is that Android is tracking customer’s location (and more) right out of the box. There are reports that the location recording issue in iOS 4 will be fixed in a software update and was a bug as opposed to a deliberate attempt to collect data. More →