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Apple Is Tracking You Even When iPhone 11 Services Disabled Claims Security Firm

Are you fed up of being tracked by Apple? A new security report reveals that the new iPhone 11 may be tracking your every move, if when you have turned off location tracking or tried to block the phone from sending data on your movements.

According to US KrebsOn Security the Apple device intermittently seeks a user’s location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data.

Apple claims this is how the device is designed.

The privacy policy available from the iPhone’s Location Services screen says, “If Location Services is on, your iPhone 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.”

The discovery was made by Brian Krebs of KrebsonSecuirty, a source that conducts in-depth investigations into security issues, who found the issue occurs with the iPhone 11 Pro when running on Apple iOS 13.2.3.

Krebs claims that users are not able to turn off location tracker for certain services when using the iPhone 11 Pro – even if they toggle shows it is blocked.

Apparently, there are some system services on this model (and possibly other iPhone 11 models) which request location data and cannot be disabled by users without completely turning off location services, as the arrow icon still appears periodically even after individually disabling all system services that use location,’ Krebs shared in his report.

Krebs contacted Apple about the issue and was told that ‘this is by design’ and it is ‘expected behaviour’ of the technology.

‘We do not see any actual security implications,’ an Apple engineer wrote in a response to KrebsOnSecurity.

‘It is expected behaviour 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’ [emphasis added].

On Nov. 13, KrebsOnSecurity contacted Apple to report this as a possible privacy bug in the new iPhone Pro and/or in iOS 13.x, sharing a video showing how the device still seeks the user’s location when each app and system service is set to “never” request location information (but with the main Location Data service still turned on).

The video above was recorded on a brand-new iPhone 11 Pro. The behaviour appears to persist in the latest iPhone operating system (iOS 13.2.3) on iPhone 11 Pro devices. A review of Apple’s support forum indicates other users are experiencing the same issue. I was not able replicate this behaviour on an older model iPhone 8 with the latest iOS.

This week Apple responded that the company does not see any concerns here and that the iPhone was performing as designed.

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