France still investigating Apple iOS location data

“France’s technology watchdog said Wednesday it is investigating an iPhone feature that tracks and stores data on its user’s movements, without the user’s knowledge or consent,” AFP reports.

“‘We have sent two letters to Apple, who have responded to us in part. We received some clarifications, but they were not complete. The file is still under investigation,’ said Yann Padova, who heads France’s CNIL, the government’s techonology consumer protection body,” AFP reports.

AFP reports, “He however assured that on the basis of information provided by Apple, it appeared ‘the data collected was stored in the handset and was not transmitted to back Apple or its commercial partners,’ Padova said. ‘Apple has worked on improving the information,’ provided to its clients about the existence of this stored data, he added. But Padova said key technical questions remain unanswered, notably how Apple secures the data collected on its mobile devices.”

“Apple in May released updated software for iPhones to fix ‘bugs’ that resulted in location data being unencrypted and stored for up to a year,” AFP reports. “France’s CNIL said it could still impose fines on the company if it finds evidence of wrongdoing.”

Read more in the full article here.

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  1. To be fair, Apple did drop the ball on this one. They have since then acknowledged the bug(s), have apologised, provided a fix, educated the customers and the watchdogs, and have tried to move on without foot dragging.

    France, Korea, US senators (for not so transparent reasons) have the right to chastise Apple still. Many Apple admirers, me included, weren’t so impressed by this dropping of the ball and had expected better. We hold Apple on higher esteem, and when Apple make a mistake, we don’t turn to their competitors to say, “but they’re just as guilty.”

    Hopefully, France’s investigation will find no intentional misconduct on Apple’s part and will then move on/chalk the issue(s) as fixed as they seem to be.

    1. My understanding that the only bug was that the data stored was based upon size, not time, so that the amount of size specified in memory turned out to be a huge amount of time, i.e. nearly a year.

    2. To the best of my knowledge, Apple did not transmit the data from the iPhone to anyone. Their “crimes” were (1) failing to put a cap on the location data buffer (2) failing to encrypt the stored data, and (3) incorporating the location data in the phone backup to the host computer. Furthermore, the location data was not the phone, itself, but nearby cell towers – the same data that every cell phone routinely collects in order to smoothly hand off from tower to tower or as a component of an assisted GPS location function.

      It is very difficult for me to believe that anyone is seriously attempting to equate these flaws in software and procedure with a punishable offense. Who was actually harmed in any way by these oversights? And how do these oversights compare to the myriad of software flaws that we have all encountered in a multitude of products?

      I do not believe that any investigation will find an element of intentional misconduct on the part of Apple. And I find it ridiculous that so much time and energy (media, government, and legal) is being wasted on this topic.

  2. Regardless of its possible ‘bug’ status, the data found never was the users location, could not be used to produce travel profiles, and was never send back to Apple.

    It always was a non-issue.

    1. Apple didn’t collect the bugs maybe, that doesn’t mean it’s not a non-issue. The data collected remained on customers’ phones and computers (not necessarily encrypted). someone else could and have gained access to those data with real consequences.

      Apple have publicly acknowledged/reported these findings as bugs (a legal admission), and have provided a quick fix. Just because it doesn’t matter to you, me and majority others, doesn’t mean these are non-issues still. Apple is responsible and have acted responsibly when the public outcry picked up. Wish they had done it sooner, that would have perhaps rendered it a bit less of an issue.

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