Apple Collects, Shares iPhone User Location Data

Lora Bentley
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Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

Most of the time I think officials at Apple just want to see how far they can push the envelope before someone calls them on it. Granted, the same is true for those who lead other companies, too. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is a prime example. But the folks in Cupertino, Calif., are particularly brave.


In the midst of possible antitrust investigations surrounding the iTunes store and questions about the terms of the iPhone developer agreement, Apple has implemented a new privacy policy that allows the company to collect and store information about iPhone users' precise locations. According to The Huffington Post:

The new terms, to which Apple users must agree before they are able to download any additional apps or media, allow Apple to collect "precise location data," as well as the "real-time geographic location" of your device, and share it with Apple's "partners and licensees."


I want to ask if it's serious, particularly in light of all the flack Facebook and Google have gotten in recent months over privacy issues. But it is serious. And the fact is, it's telling users that it's collecting the data, which is more than Google could say about the Wi-Fi data that has that company in trouble internationally.


Apple, of course, argues that the data it collects is anonymous, but nothing we do online is <em>really</em> anonymous.


Huffington Post writer Bianca Bosker says:

It is unclear whether users will be able to opt-out and prevent Apple from collecting information on their whereabouts.

The policy is also unclear as to how the data is used, other than to make sure MobileMe works.


I'm guessing privacy advocates will be all over this one.

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