After mounting pressure from consumers and even the odd government agency, Apple’s PR department finally broke its silence this month on reports that it tracks and records the location of iPhone users. In a statement the company flat-out denied the claims saying, "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
Apple said that the iPhone is not logging your location but it does keep a database of wi-fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location. This, the company explained, is to help the iPhone quickly calculate its location when using GPS services such as Google Maps. But can Apple locate a user based on a geo-tagged Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower? "No. This data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple cannot identify the source of this data.”
Some users found that up to a year’s worth of location data is being stored on the iPhone. "This data is not the iPhone’s location data—it is a subset (cache) of the crowd-sourced wi-fi hotspot and cell tower database which is downloaded from Apple into the iPhone,” continued Apple. "The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly. We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.” When Location Services are turned off on the iPhone, it can still continue updating its wi-fi and cell tower data. This is another bug that Apple plans to fix with a new iOS update in the near future. Apple says it does collect "anonymous traffic data” to build a database that can one day provide iPhone users with an improved service in the next couple of years.
Apple finished it’s statement by saying that it strongly believes that personal information security and privacy are important. "iPhone was the first to ask users to give their permission for each and every app that wanted to use location. Apple will continue to be one of the leaders in strengthening personal information security and privacy,” it said.