Apple Responds to China’s Recent Criticism Of Their Frequent Location Feature.
During the previous Friday, Apple had gotten into some trouble with China after the country’s state broadcaster aired a new program that criticized on the iPhone for tracking frequent location information. This feature shall become available on iOS 7, and keeps track of places owner have recently been, as well as how often they ten to visit said place.
During an introduction for the feature, Apple points out that the data “is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent”, instead of its being used for personalized services such as predictive traffic routing.
State-run China Central Television’s new program went on to say that there are risk involved with the frequent location tracking feature, in which encroaches upon a user privacy by disclosing where the user has been to.
Apple responded to this with a statement on its Chines site, stat that it was appreciated CCTV’s effort to help keep their consumers informed on this topic which it thinks is very important.
“We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don’t do when it comes to privacy and your personal data,” the company said.
It goes on to clarify that Apple does not track user locations, “Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” Instead, as customers want their iPhones to reliably determine their current locations when they search for location-related information such as finding the nearest restaurant or calculating the amount of time to get to work, Apple says it collects information at the “device level.”
Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using pre-stored WLAN hotspot and cell tower location data in combination with information about which hotspots and cell towers are currently being received by the iPhone.
In order to accomplish this goal, Apple maintains a secure crowd-sourced database containing known locations of cell towers and WLAN hotspots that Apple collects from millions of Apple devices. It’s important to point out that during this collection process, an Apple device does not transmit any data that is uniquely associated with the device or the customer.
Apple also states that ‘Frequent Locations’ are only stored within a customer’s iOS device and are encrypted and never backed up on iTunes or iCloud, and Apple does not have access to the information at any time. This feature can also be turned off through the privacy setting.
“Apple gives customers control over collection and use of location data on all our devices. Customers have to make the choice to enable Location Services, it is not a default setting. Apple does not allow any app to receive device location information without first receiving the user’s explicit consent through a simple pop-up alert. This alert is mandatory and cannot be overridden,” the company said.