Saturday, April 23, 2011
Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad periodically send location information back to the company, according to new reports. The data is transmitted to a secure database that only it can access, Apple claims.
Bruce Sewell, an attorney for Apple, sent a letter to two US Representatives last year, discussing the company’s data collection techniques and policies. The thirteen-page letter states that location information is recorded and sent to Apple every twelve hours, but only if the user enables the device’s location settings.
Apple began building a location database of its own when it decided to stop using similar services offered by Google & SkyHook Wireless. Location data is used in social networking applications and call routing.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Democratic Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey said, “Apple needs to safeguard the personal location information of its users to ensure that an iPhone doesn’t become an iTrack.”
Such data collection is not unique to Apple. Google’s Android operating system uses similar technology to provide location-based services to its users. Google has said that it also uses the data collected to provide accurate traffic data through its “Maps” applications on both Apple and Android devices. However, the company declined to comment on the latest findings regarding its data collection.
Apple was also recently in the spotlight after it was discovered that the iPhone and iPad were retaining location data on the device itself. This information is collected in an unencrypted file and is not transmitted elsewhere. The data file reportedly contains a variety of information, including longitude and latitude, cell phone tower identification data, wireless hotspot identification, and timestamps.