Apple Now Collecting iPhone User Locations

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The latest privacy policy for Apple has an added paragraph that allows Apple and its partners and licensees to collect location-based data about iPhone users.  Any user attempting to download an app from Apple’s App Store must agree to the new policy before being allowed to download.  The new language notifies users that “To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.”  The next sentences state, “This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.”  Unfortunately, anonymous really isn’t all that anonymous, as researchers Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov from the University of Texas at Austin demonstrated in their paper, “Robust De-anonymization of Large Sparse Datasets.”  (via LA Times)

The full text of the newly added section:

Location-Based Services

To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.

Some location-based services offered by Apple, such as the MobileMe “Find My iPhone” feature, require your personal information for the feature to work.


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