Apple Collects Location Data Even if You Say No

Location symbol on a map.

Security researcher Brian Krebs discovered something unsettling about his iPhone 11 Pro. It continued to collect location data even when he switched it off.

Location Data

When you go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, you can control which apps can use your location. There is also a setting at the bottom for System Services. But Mr. Krebs noticed that the location indicator icon still appeared the notification bar even when all system services were disabled.

He contacted Apple about his on November 13 to report it as a privacy bug. It could be a bug either with the iPhone 11 Pro or iOS 13 itself. Or, maybe it’s not a bug and working as intended. That’s what Apple said when a spokesperson reached out to Mr. Krebs:

We do not see any actual security implications,” an Apple engineer wrote in a response to KrebsOnSecurity. “It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.

When a person disables locations services, the expected outcome is that the app or system will no longer use your location. But Apple seems to think that it’s expected behavior when it collects location data even though the setting is turned off.

Further Reading:

[iOS 13 Forced Facebook to Admit it Collects Your Location Data]

[iOS 13: How to Share Photos Without Location Data]

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