No matter how harmless this whole iPhone tracking feature may be, some people still aren’t happy about it. While many of us have brushed it off and chosen to ignore what seems like something blown way out of proportion, others have decided to take things a little more seriously.
Now dubbed ‘Locationgate’, the issue has been the subject of class-action lawsuits and government investigations. But surely if users are really concerned about their iPhone tracking their every move, they can just turn location services off, right? Wrong.
The Wall Street Journal has revealed that even with location services disabled on the iPhone, the device continues to collect and store users’ location data with the help of cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. This isn’t a dirty little secret, however; this is well within the rights of every cell phone maker. But what’s interesting, is that Apple seems to lie about it.
In its iPhone Terms of Service, Apple states:
By using any location-based services on your iPhone, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve such products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time by going to the Location Services setting on your iPhone and either turning off the global Location Services setting or turning off the individual location settings of each location-aware application on your iPhone.
Apple has made it clear to us that our iPhone location data is used for different purposes, and by using the iPhone we have agreed that this is okay. However, Apple also says that we can stop this and “withdraw consent” at any time by disabling the location services on our device. Testing by the WSJ has revealed that this might not be the case:
The Journal disabled location services (which are on by default) and immediately recorded the data that had initially been gathered by the phone. The Journal then carried the phone to new locations and observed the data. Over the span of several hours as the phone was moved, it continued to collect location data from new places.