Apple and Friends Keep an Eye on You With iOS 4

iOS 4 went live on June 21 around 1PM EST. The update is jam-packed with over 100 new features including multitasking and folders.

Before updating you were met with Apple’s new Software License Agreement, which I’m sure all of you were quick to accept. I was lucky enough to grab a GM copy of iOS 4 last week and updated when iTunes 9.2 was released for Windows. Yesterday afternoon I accessed the App Store from my iPhone to download a game, the new Terms and Conditions appeared for me to accept, a whopping 42 pages on my iPhone that I wasn’t interested in reading.

Perhaps if I were to read over some of those pages I would have found what The Las Angeles Times did. The LA Times points out a change in Apple’s privacy policy included in the iOS 4 revised iTunes Store terms which specifies that Apple may collect “precise,” “real-time geographic location” data for users of its products. Under the updated privacy policy, the data may be used by Apple and unspecified “partners and licensees” in order to improve services and advertising.

Apple claims, “The data is anonymous and does not personally identify users.” Analysts have shown otherwise, that large, specific sets of data can be used to identify people based on behavioral patterns. The report notes that the new privacy policy does not specify which third parties may receive access to the collected data, nor does it mention how long Apple may keep the data. The report also quotes the relevant passage of the updated terms, “To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.”

Apple has since launched an official page that allows iOS device users to opt out of personal data collection, such as information regarding downloads and purchases, for its iAds mobile advertising service. Users can visit on any device running iOS 4 and Apple will allow the user to opt out of data collection for iAds. Apple said that users who opt out may see the same ads as before, but they may be less relevant because they will not be based on their interests. Ads can also be related to the content in an application, or any other non-personal information.

Now, how do you feel about all this? Do you care that Apple and “partners and licensees” are keeping tabs on your real-time geological location, or could you care less? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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