Apple releases iPhone, iPad software update to address location data collection

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Following a furor over its iPhone and iPad devices collecting up to a year’s worth of data related to a user’s whereabouts, Apple Inc. on Wednesday released a software update that reduces the amount of data stored on the devices and allows users to delete the log of recorded locations.

The updated software version, iOS 4.3.3, will reduce the size of the file storing locations from up to a year’s worth of data down to about a week’s worth, Apple said, and will give users the option of shutting off the data collection altogether by turning off the ‘Location Services’ setting.


The update came about a week after Apple offered a limited explanation of the reason for the location log, saying that rather than tracking user movements, the devices download information about nearby cellular towers and Wi-Fi networks in order to more efficiently offer geography-related services like mapping. Apple also cited bugs in the software that enabled it to collect far too much information.

The privacy and security implications of the location data quickly drew the attention of government officials in the U.S. and abroad, many of whom sent Apple requests to explain the purpose of the collection.

Next Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) plans to question Google and Apple at a hearing about mobile privacy.


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-- David Sarno