Apple comes clean: It is collecting location data

On Tuesday when we told you about Steve Jobs apparently sending a denial email with regards to the iPhone tracking issue, we told you to expect official word from Cupertino soon.

Well, it took less than 24 hours as Apple has now produced a Q&A sheet detailing exactly what the heck is going on.

And, Apple being Apple, it's a mix of patronisation and reassurance. The message is basically: "We're not tracking your location, but we are engaged in collecting location data in a way in which your little brain couldn't possibly comprehend."

What Apple is saying is that the location log, that gets backed up on a users PC without encryption and has caused all of this fuss, isn't in fact a record of your locations but rather "an appropriate subset (cache)" of a "database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested".

In short, Apple is saying that it tracks locations, which are sent to it "in an anonymous and encrypted form" in order to make mapping apps quicker. It's doing you a favour you see.

Apple did, however, admit that a bug in its iOS software had led to this location data being stored for longer than it should (up to a year in some cases) as well as another bug that meant data was still located even when users had their location services switched off.

A software update has been confirmed from Cupertino to fix these bugs as well as reducing the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone, ceasing the backing up of this cache and deleting this cache entirely when location services are turned off.

You can read the full Apple confession, sorry Q&A, at www.apple.com.



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