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Apple openly admits to iPhone 11 location tracking, offers reason

Even with location services turned off, your iPhone 11 still tracks where you are. (Image: own)
Even with location services turned off, your iPhone 11 still tracks where you are. (Image: own)
Apple has finally admitted to secretly tracking the location data of iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max users. The company stated that the tracking was necessary for the Ultra Wideband (UWB) hardware in the 2019 iPhones to meet regulatory standards. Some countries require that UWB radios be disabled within their borders. Apple further stated that a future iOS update will allow users to fully disable this location tracking.

For a company that touts how much it values user privacy, Apple has violated user trust several times just in the past year. Most recently, security researcher Brian Krebs revealed evidence that the new iPhone 11 family secretly tracked user location data. After an initial denial, Apple has now openly admitted that yes, the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max have been secretly tracking user locations.

Apple blames the tracking as a necessity with blame laid squarely at the feet of the new Ultra wideband chip used in the 2019 iPhones. According to Apple:

Ultra wideband technology is an industry-standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations. iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations. The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data.

Users that have researched the issue have confirmed that the location data is not sent to servers and seems to be kept only on the device.

Apple has stated that a future iOS update will allow users to fully disable this location tracking. That’s a curious decision considering the company’s emphasis on location tracking being a necessary tool to follow regulatory compliance. How Apple plans to uphold geographical regulations concerning the use of UWB hardware without pegging a user’s location will be interesting to see.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 12 > Apple openly admits to iPhone 11 location tracking, offers reason
Sam Medley, 2019-12- 6 (Update: 2019-12- 6)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.