Security researcher Brian Krebs reported earlier this week Apple’s latest iPhone 11 Pro with Location Services disabled—still collects location data.
“It seems they are saying their phones have some system services that query your location regardless of whether one has disabled this setting individually for all apps and iOS system services,” wrote Krebs.
Apple stayed mum on the matter until now, releasing a statement to TechCrunch. Apple now says Ultra wideband tech in its newest phones are to blame, saying they check your location so it can disable itself to comply with regulations.
“Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations,” said an Apple spokesperson to TechCrunch. “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations.”
“The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data,” added the Apple spokesperson.
Ultra wideband technology is said to also be used for the company’s rumoured Apple tags.
FWIW, tried to dig into this and replicate.
it is very likely that it is something locally which does not have an exposed switch, no evidence of data sent to remote servers.
begs the question: why does Apple not answer for this directly? https://t.co/5Ht2hA30CR
— Will Strafach (@chronic) December 5, 2019
Apple said an upcoming iOS update will bring a dedicated toggle to disable ultra wideband technology, therefore no longer querying a user’s location, even with Location Services disabled.
The company regularly touts the privacy aspect of its iPhones. This undisclosed use of location services on iPhone 11 Pro–even with the setting disabled–does not look good for Apple. At least a new toggle is coming.