iPhone ‘kill switch’ really exists to protect GPS access from unauthorized apps

“Yesterday I linked to a story about the discovery by Jonathan Zdziarski of a remote blacklist Apple is maintaining, supposedly, according to Zdziarski, to remotely disable rogue iPhone apps previously distributed through the App Store,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball.

“But the story seems fishy… there may well be some sort of kill switch that Apple can deploy to remotely disable an app that’s already installed. But this list is not it,” Gruber writes. “Apple has no reason to hide such a configuration in a sneaky place. If it’s ‘tucked away in a configuration file deep inside’ the Core Location framework, doesn’t it seem more likely that this list has something to do with, say, Core Location? Even the URL of the file in question hints at this: https://iphone-services.apple.com/clbl/unauthorizedApps.”

Gruber reports, “An informed source at Apple confirmed to me that the ‘clbl’ in the URL stands for ‘Core Location Blacklist,’ and that it does just that. It is not a blacklist for disabling apps completely, but rather specifically for preventing any listed apps from accessing Core Location — an API which, for obvious privacy reasons, is covered by very strict rules in the iPhone SDK guidelines.”

Full article here.

Obviously, nobody would want apps out there that can access GPS that might be intended to harass, stalk, or otherwise violate people’s privacy and other legal rights. It’s good that Apple had the foresight to create a way to prevent unauthorized access to Core Location.


  1. I do not understand why people dont understand that the blacklist is for gps only. How would you like it if an app gave your personal information to the developer. That would be the worst kind of spyware thier. It checkts the website whenever an application asks for location for the first time. Here is proof. Take an ipod touch. Restore it. Then open up maps. Load up the map for where you are at. Then exit it and disconect from the internet. Now go into maps again have it locate. Allow the program maps to access your location. it will never find it. However if the first time you use location in maps you are connected it will work . Then when your disconected and move somewhere else it will be able to locate you without connecting to the internet.

  2. “Obviously, nobody would want apps out there that can access GPS that might be intended to harass, stalk, or otherwise violate people’s privacy and other legal rights.”


  3. Damn! Well there goes my idea for “Stalker” – an iPhone app that lets you stalk your ex-girlfriend or any random chick you met at the bar last week. Her iPhone would “call home” to yours every 2 minutes and would provide you with her exact location – kinda like Twitter on blow.

    You: “Hey, small world meeting you randomly like this again.”
    Her: “Get lost, freak!”


  4. Cubert,

    “You: “Hey, small world meeting you randomly like this again.”
    Her: “Get lost, freak!”

    Married guys have those kind of interactions all the time just laying in bed. At least I do. Ahhhhh…..crap!

  5. “Dick Cheney and his goons know where you are!!”

    So does Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    Cheney scares us as much as they do. Bring it on you old bastard.

  6. Protecting the consumer is more important than protecting the developers.

    BTW – NetShare has NOT been disabled on my iPhone. If Apple was looking to disable apps they were unhappy with, NetShare would be on the top of their list.

  7. Apple should KILL all the apps if you ask me as all they do is make your iPhone crash faster!

    The iPhone 2.0.1 and iTunes 7.7.1 is so totally unstable it crashes everyday and needs a restore. Apps quit constantly, all of them doesn’t matter which one. Once one app quits they all do. Restarts and hard resets do not help. Only a total restore is needed. Sometimes when an app quits it kills the iPhone and you are left with a Apple logo.

    iTunes takes forever to do backups on the iPhone that wind up useless as when you try to do a restore using a backup, 9 times out of ten iTunes tells you it is corrupted and you need to restore as a new iPhone.

    iTunes never knows when you need updates on the apps and is wrong most of the time. If you do and update with iTunes of an app, it downloads the app and recreates the file instead of overwriting it. Take a look in your Mobile Application folder and you will find tons of files building up with incremented file names like AIM, AIM 1, AIM 2, etc.

    The iPhone is a fantastic device when it works, which is never more than a day if you install any apps and try to use them. Beware installing, updating or deleting apps directly on the iPhone very often will kill it leaving you with the white Apple logo of death and no phone at all. Such a pleasant experience when it happens in the middle of the day leaving you without even a cell phone. Make a great Apple logo flashlight!

    I returned the iPhone for replacement, I synced it with different Macs, tried loading less app, different apps, no apps. Nothing really helps. This is the buggiest products Apple has probably ever released.

    The Genius Bars and the Apple support forums are loaded with iPhone problems so I am not alone!

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