iPhone 11 Pro Reportedly Collects User Location Data Despite Disabled Settings

An iPhone 11 Pro with individually disabled location tracking for all apps and system services keeps collecting location information, according to a recent discovery.

Security journalist Brian Krebs discovered that Apple’s privacy policy for the iPhone’s Locations Services says the handset “will periodically send the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers (where supported by a device) in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple, to be used for augmenting this crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations.”

That’s not an issue on its own. However, Apple has also been pushing privacy settings as a major benefit of its new iPhones, and as a reason to use its newest version of iOS. On iOS 13 users are frequently prompted to review their location settings as apps request access to that data.

Krebs notes that even after switching off location services for all apps individually (the master setting for location services was intentionally left “on”), he noticed the location services indicator periodically suggested the phone was still picking up location data.

It’s worth noting that the issue occurs only when disabling location services individually for each app, and not via the master settings.

It’s unclear for now exactly which handsets this set of circumstances is limited to working on, but Apple’s response to the story said that it does “not see any security implications,” and that the location services icon that gives the game away can appear for services that users cannot control in the Settings app.

It appears to be the case, therefore, that there are some services that cannot be opted out of, something that Apple’s Privacy Policy could perhaps explain more clearly.