Apple openly admits to iPhone 11 location tracking, offers reason
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.