Apple CEO Addresses iPhone Tracking

April 28, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — Apple Inc. is scaling back how much information its iPhones store about where they have been and said it will stop collecting such data when consumers request it, as the company tries to quell concerns it was tracking iPhone owners.  But Apple’s statements, after a week of silence on the growing controversy, raised new questions and criticism about its data-handling practices. Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) said Apple apparently “lied” to him and another lawmaker last year when it said its phones don’t collect and transmit location-based data when location services such as mapping are turned off.  Apple said Wednesday it would fix software “bugs” that let each phone build a database of locations stretching back months, even when related services are disabled by the user.  Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who is on medical leave, was unapologetic in his defense of his company’s actions. “Your precise location is never transmitted to Apple,” he said in an interview.  Rather, Mr. Jobs said, Apple gathers information from the phone about nearby cellphone towers and local wireless, or Wi-Fi, networks. Apple uses that information to supplement the Global Positioning System already employed on most phones.

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