Dec 4, 2019

iPhone 11 Pro Finds To Collect Location Data Even If You Selected 'Never' Option (U)

A new report on Tuesday showed that even if users disable all app location services, Apple's iPhone 11 Pro continue to collect and transmit location data, which could pose a potential security risk, the issue is first spotted by security reporter Brian Krebs on his blog KrebsOnSecurity.


In particular, Kerbs said that the iPhone 11 Pro seems to periodically ping its GPS module to gather user location data. He demonstrated it on the iPhone 11 Pro running the latest iOS 13.2.3 version, and even after manually selected Never in apps' Location settings, the device will continue to collect GPS data for certain applications and system services.
One of the more curious behaviors of Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro is that it intermittently seeks the user’s location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data. Apple says this is by design, but that response seems at odds with the company’s own privacy policy
Apple's policy states that users can disable all location services entirely by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, then switching “Location Services” to “off”). and that should prevent the location services indicator from appearing again unless Location Services is re-enabled. But, the condition is that some system services query your location regardless of whether one has set this setting to Never for all apps and iOS system services individually.

In response, Apple said that the icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings:
“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.”
Krebs was unable to replicate the above issue on the iPhone 8, and it is unclear if Apple's iPhone 11 had similar issues. Lastly, he suggested that this strange behavior could be linking to the new iPhone hardware introduced to support Wi-Fi 6, but the theory has not yet been confirmed.

Update:  In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple explained that the new ‌iPhone‌ models have a U1 ultra wideband chip are using location data to ensure they're not in restricted areas, thus, iOS uses Location Service to determine if ‌iPhone‌ is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations. Apple also said that a dedicated toggle that will turn off the ultra wideband technology is coming to a future update.

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