Apple has moved to defend claims that they are tracking users of their iPhone, however they have said that they are set to change the way data is captured and how long it is kept.
Last night Apple released a statement denying that it has been tracking or logging the location of iPhone users, but acknowledged it had not provided enough information about the data it is collecting and plans to alter its practice via a a software update due in the next few weeks. “The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone’s location, which can be more than one hundred miles away from the iPhone,” the company said.
This data is sent in real-time to Apple in an encrypted and anonymous form, which the company said is used to improve location services, target ads to those who have expressly agreed to targeting, and to build a crowd-sourced traffic database for an improved traffic service Apple plans to introduce in the next couple of years.
The company called the fact that it was storing up to a year’s worth of location data, and logging data on iPhones whose owners had turned off location services “bugs,” which will be addressed in the software update.
Apple said the software update will reduce the size of the database cached on the iPhone, cease backing up of this cache, which will now by encrypted, and delete the cache entirely when location services are turned off.
Since the revelation last week of location data being logged by the iPhone and iPad, Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging violations of computer fraud laws, and invited to appear before a Senate subcommittee hearing on consumer privacy in technology.