Apple & Google Answer Hard Hitting Question From Senator – 13 Page Letter Details on Location Data

Apple has provided United States House Representative Edward J. Markey with a 13 page letter detailing its use of location information. Earlier we have also posted about Apple iPhone location tracking information.

Here at Senator Al Franken’s hearing on location privacy, Apple’s Bud Tribble made the following statements:

Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of our customers. We do not share personal information with third parties without our customers’ specific consent. And we make our partners agree to certain strictures around protecting their privacy.

Using stored information can speed up determining its location. Apple maintains a crowdsourced database of Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers.

By design, Apple gives customers control, and has built a master location switch. Users simply switch the location services switch off. When off, the device will not collect location information. Apple does not receive any data without first obtaining consent from a simple pop-up box. The pop-up box is not optional.

Apple responds to all concerns about privacy that may arise. Apple was never tracking individuals’ locations. The location data gathered was not the location of the iPhone, but about the hotspots and cell towers nearby. It was protected from access by other apps on the phone.

While we were investigating the cache we discovered a bug that allowed the data to be updated even when the location master switch was off.

Apple is committed to giving customers strong and clear choices in how their data is used. We share the committee’s concerns about collection and privacy of customer data, especially location.

The letter posted here was sent via email and hand delivery to Markey and contains Apple response to a letter from Market dated April 21, 2011. It provides answers to numerous questions about how Appel gathers and uses location information.

[ via newenterprise ]

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