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Wednesday
Apr272011

Apple Responds to iPhone Tracking Controversy

George Frey/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- One week after security researchers stoked privacy fears with evidence that iPhones and iPads store location data, Apple on Wednesday finally released an official statement attempting to quell customer concerns.

"Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," the company said in a public "Q & A on Location Data" posted on the company Web site.

Instead of logging the location of its users, Apple said the iPhone keeps a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers nearby users' current locations, some of which could be more than 100 miles away from the phone.

That information is stored on the phones to help them more quickly and accurately determine the phones' location when owners use navigation or location-based services.

"Calculating a phone's location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements)," the company said.

The company emphasized that security and privacy are important and that, in the coming weeks, it will release a software update that will reduce the amount of location data stored on the phone and cease to backup the information.

In the days following the researchers' announcement, digital rights activists and lawmakers criticized both Apple and Google for privacy infringements related to location data.

Apple's official statement on location data comes two days after Franken announced that the Senate would hold a hearing on mobile privacy concerns, with Apple and Google executives, on May 10.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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