Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Apple Responds To Location Tracking, Denies All Wrong Doing

By now we've all heard to hoopla surrounding Apples gathering and use of location information on the iPad and iPhones. Today the company finally stepped forward to answer our questions and concerns and in normal Apple fashion denied there has been any wrong doing.

Apple's Q&A document published today, gives customers the how and why Apple is collecting location data.

Lets get some history behind this

Unless you've been living under a rock you've likely read the reports that two programmers discovered a file on the iOS devices that apparently held the logged location and wi-fi information of their devices.

The key issue mainly started out as being an uproar around the fact that the file is unprotected and unencrypted and being stored on iPhones, iPads and your Mac device. Then the issue arose that Apple doesn't allow you to opt out of the tracking service and that there was no way to turn it off. All this has lead to
at least two customers that have already filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of violating computer fraud laws by secretly recording location data of iPhone and iPad users.

So why is Apple collecting my data

To put it bluntly Apple wants you to do their work for them. According to the Q&A they are using you to crowd-source a database which will then be turned into an Apple traffic service in the next couple of years. They will also likely use the information to create better iAds and other location based advertising.

Why I think this is an issue

I personally have no issues with Google, Apple or Microsoft gathering some of the information but I'm not happy with all that is collected. I don't feel that they should be accessing wi-fi data. Something Google got berated for when collecting street view info.

What I have issue with is the lack of transparency and what seems to be an "Apple can do no wrong" attitude. Not to mention I feel they are exploiting me as a user, and in Apple's case, without my consent. Google already addressed the issue, I have an opt-in clause on my phone, and Microsoft has already stated they don't currently do this. I can choose to share or not share my information and they aren't sneaking around behind my back first telling me they don't gather it, then confirming they do and telling me its really no big deal.

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