Apple Updates Tracking Software

May 8, 2011 by
Apple has released a software update to fix a problem that enabled its mobile devices to collect and store customers' location data, making good on a promise it made last week.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, who is on medical leave, had promised to adjust the company's mobile software to store less location data after a firestorm broke out over whether Apple was monitoring the whereabouts of its customers.

The update, which is available through its iTunes stores and automatically pops up when an iPhone or iPad is synced, said it "contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache."

The company said in the update that the software fix reduces the size of the location storage, ensures that the device no longer backs the location information in iTunes, and enables the iPhone or iPad to stop collecting data when Location Services is turned off.

Apple's software update comes ahead of a U.S. senate subcommittee hearing on mobile privacy on May 10. Representatives from both Apple and Google Inc have agreed to testify at the hearing.

Concerns about tracking came to a head earlier this month when two computer programmers presented research showing the iPhone was logging locations.

Apple has denied that it was tracking the movements of its iPhone customers but has acknowledged that it does keep a database of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers. This has raised concerns from privacy advocates, who say the process would make it possible, for instance, for someone with access to a person's computer to retrieve information about their movements.

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