iPhone 11 uses your location even after you block access

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iPhone 11 keeps tabs on your whereabouts.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

iPhone 11 units are using location services even after access has been blocked by the user, a new report reveals.

Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s latest handsets intermittently seek location information regardless of the user’s privacy settings. Apple says it is “expected behavior.”

iPhone owners must grant permission for location services to be used when setting up a new device for the first time. The same prompt appears after installing an iOS update, and the settings can be altered at any time.

But it turns out that for some system services, it doesn’t matter whether you grant access to your location data or not. It will be used anyway.

Why is iPhone 11 using location services without permission?

“One of the more curious behaviors of Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro is that it intermittently seeks the user’s location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data,” reads a report from KrebsonSecurity.

You might think Apple, a company that makes a big deal out of its concern for user privacy, might be horrified that this is happening. It must be a bug that will be quickly rectified by the end of the week, right? Wrong.

“It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled,” one Apple engineer said. “The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings”

It’s that last line that is a concern. It implies there are certain location services the user cannot disable on iPhone, and they will continue to work even if you have blocked location access for everything else. What’s more, Apple doesn’t disclose what those services are.

Apple goes quiet

So, we don’t know which services are using your location on iPhone 11. And we don’t know whether any location data is collected or transmitted. Apple has failed to respond to follow-up questions from KrebsonSecurity that may have clarified what’s happening.

Whatever the case may be, it goes against Apple’s strict stance on user privacy, and its aim of giving the user complete control over their data.