Apple tells lawmakers it collects location info

Apple tells lawmakers it collects location info

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US: Responding to questions from US lawmakers about what kind of location data it collects, Apple said it collects GPS data daily from iPhones running OS 3.2 or iOS 4. The phones collect the GPS data and encrypt it before sending it back to Apple every 12 hours via Wi-Fi. Attached to the GPS data is a random identification number generated by the phone every 24 hours. The information is not associated with a particular customer,

It was the 13-page reply to questions posed by Representative Ed Markey from Massachusetts and Congressman Joe Barton from Texas. Apple uses the data to analyse traffic patterns and density, it said. Apple collects such data from customers who have approved the use of location-based capabilities on the phone and who actually use an application that requires GPS.

Apple similarly collects information about nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi networks. In older versions of the iPhone, Apple relies on databases maintained by Google and Skyhook Wireless to provide location-based services, it said. But starting with OS 3.2, Apple began using its own database.

Markey seemed more pleased with Apple’s response than Barton. “Consumer consent is the key to assessing the adequacy of privacy protections, and Apple’s responses provide examples of how consumers can grant or withhold consent in their usage of Apple products,” he said in a statement.

Barton wasn’t so positive. “While I applaud Apple for responding to our questions, I remain concerned about privacy policies that run on for pages and pages,” he said in a statement.

The senators also asked if Apple believes its policies are consistent with the intent of Section 222 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires operators to get authorisation before accessing users’ wireless location information. Apple replied that while it believes its policies are consistent with Section 222, it isn’t a telecommunications operator so it is not subject to the rules.

Source: PCWorld Business Center