A recent probe by US lawmakers has poked holes in the elevated privacy features that are available on the iPhone and iPad with the iOS 13 software, including notifications when apps such as Google Maps are tracking your location, deeming those changes “anti-competitive”.
And while privacy advocates have so far praised the Cupertino tech giant for the new privacy-focused features in the iOS 13 software, that could change in light of the revelations that Tim Cook & Co. are not applying the same rule to Apple’s proprietary apps, like Maps.
Just to refresh your memory, it was reported yesterday that Apple has been gathering and transmitting location data of the iPhone 11 Pro users even when they have set every single app and system service to never request location information. At least one privacy advocate says Apple’s behavior appears to be evidence that it’s engaged in constant location surveillance.
Ray Walsh, data privacy advocate at ProPrivacy.com:
It seems hard to believe that a firm with the power and development expertise of Apple has done this accidentally. And the fact that it has quickly gone on the record to claim that it does not actually see any negative security implications with the practice — seems telling.
I couldn’t agree more.
Security journalist Brian Krebs has proved that the iPhone 11 Pro intermittently seeks the user’s location information even when told not to. An Apple engineer responded to the piece by claiming Apple doesn’t see any actual security implications. “It is expected behavior that the location services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled,” an engineer said. “The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.”
It’s also telling that Apple didn’t respond to any follow-up questions.
Walsh speculates that that Apple will most likely release a software fix that allows consumers to appear to completely switch location tracking off on their device.
Whether this actually stops the tracking will remain a corporate secret known only to those behind the closed source platform. The problem with iPhones is that they are completely closed source, and, as a result, it is impossible to tell exactly what Apple is doing in the background. This means it is theoretically possible that iPhone devices could continue to record people’s location data secretly.
I don’t think that Apple is secretly tracking users.
But, given the company’s tough stance on protecting the privacy of its users, Apple doesn’t need bad press like this supposed iPhone 11 location tracking. I’m guessing that’s some kind of a bug that will most likely be squished with a future update, not intended behavior.
Some people have suspected that the fact that the location tracking only occurs on the latest iPhone 11 Pro handsets could have something to do with Apple’s support for the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. It’s hard to tell what’s behind all this because Apple is being tight-lipped about it.
So, what do you think is going on here?
Let us know in the comments down below.