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Apple iOS update stops handset tracking user's location

Data will be deleted if location services turned off

Apple's latest software update includes a fix that stops the iPhone tracking the location of users.

Last month, a researcher revealed Apple's smartphone, along with the iPad, logs a user's location using data from cell towers and Wi-Fi access points, in a file called consolidated.db. Every time, an iPhone or iPad is synched, the data is transferred to the computer. The information is also transferred onto a new device should you upgrade from one iPhone to another.

Apple disputed the allegation, saying that it simply maintains a database of regional cell towers and Wi-Fi access points to improve its phones' location services.

"[This is] a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location ... to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested," said Apple.

"Calculating a phone's location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available."

Apple also claimed it only takes this data from your iOS device only if you are using the device's location services.

iOS 4.3.3 limits the amount of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower location data stored on Apple smartphones as well as encrypting it and prevents it being stored on a computer when the device is synched. Furthermore, the data will be deleted if a user turns of location services.

Apple said the data is being collected "with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years."


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