Apple Inc will scale down the amount of data it collects from Apple devices after revelations of Google and Apple regularly collecting user location data.In the coming weeks, Apple will reduce how much location data is stored on its devices to around seven days, deleting past backlogs of months worth of unencrypted location data.
Apple was first caught out storing data from mobile devices by two UK scientists, but it was recently revealed that the same collection is done on Macs while accessing Wi Fi networks on the Snow Leopard operating system.
Apple said it would fix location database “bugs” that log months’ worth of locations, and Apple will now let users opt out of having their data collected by the company.
The issue has sparked the attention of privacy authorities, with the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law inviting executives from both Google and Apple to an investigation hearing on mobile privacy.
Apple has stressed that the collected data is anonymous and solely for enhancing the user experience, though Google’s use of location data for advertising purposes has made the practice questionable.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has defended the company, stating that users’ precise location is never transmitted to Apple and that the company never tracks users. Apple explained, saying it stored WiFi hotspot and cellular tower locations that devices connected to over the past year in order to speed up GPS functions on Apple devices.
The mobile forensic researchers who identified the iPhone 4’s location tracking system said that the data has been used by law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations.
Apple is scaling down its data collection in a move to quell consumer fears who haven’t been ‘properly educated’ about ‘very complex issues’ of data collection.