Apple’s iBeacon: So many opt-out choices, or are there?

“There has been a lot of good coverage of Apple’s new iBeacon software and its privacy implications,” Ben Isaacson writes for Privacology. “The gist of it is that your new iOS7 iPhone* will automatically broadcast your phone’s presence and proximity to iBeacon transmitters through Bluetooth (Low Energy/4.0), which could include other phones or tablets in addition to small objects placed in physical locations such as retail stores.”

“I have no doubt there will be some amazing retail and location-based experiences that will shine through iBeacon, such as the MLB’s proposed use of it to guide stadium visits,” Isaacson writes. “In a subsequent post, I’ll get into the massive privacy issues of micro-location tracking and integration with other online/offline data. For now, a good first step is to clarify how privacy is built into the software, and what some of the choice issues that users and app providers should be considering.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Estimote makes ‘Nearables’ – iBeacon stickers you can stick on anything – August 22, 2014
Apple and the omnichannel: 9 industries already using Apple’s iBeacon – July 29, 2014
Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor roll out Apple’s iBeacon tech across North America – July 28, 2014
Hundreds of London businesses are about to flip the switch on payments via iBeacons – June 19, 2014
inMarket: iBeacon increases in-store app usage, retention, and brand engagement – June 16, 2014
Google wants in on Apple Inc.’s iBeacon party – June 9, 2014
GE integrates iBeacon into new LED light fixtures, Walmart installing in stores worldwide – May 29, 2014
Walgreens and Walmart testing iBeacon, Motorola Solutions launches iBeacon marketing platform – May 7, 2014
Virgin Atlantic trials Apple iBeacon tech for iPhone users at London Heathrow Airport – May 2, 2014
New York City bars to use Apple’s iBeacon for pub crawl promo – April 28, 2014
New sunglasses with iBeacon notify you when lost, act as beacons in retail – April 28, 2014


  1. You’d actually have to have Bluetooth on for any tracking. How many people leave that on 24/7? Sure some use headsets, but do they still leave it on all the time?

    1. iOS7 loves to have Bluetooth on by defualt. So much so, in fact, that if you turn Airplane mode on and off, it will turn Bluetooth on even if it wasn’t on before.

    2. Forget Bluetooth on – you have to have a app listening for these beacons and have accepted that such an app can track you not just once but now twice in iOS8 (it asks you a few days later if you’re really sure you’re OK with the app tracking your location). It’s double opt-in.

      This article is just attempting to stir up a bit of paranoia, where nothing of the kind exists.

      It’s interesting that the old alternatives, Ultrasound and WiFi tracking, both blocked or greatly restricted by iOS but in widespread use by Android apps – are not addressed by these so called privacy experts.

      1. Yep.
        My iPhone pairs with 4 BT devices.
        I have a LG HBS750 stereo headset (that also paired with my iPod for music)
        Jawbone Earpiece
        My car
        Sony Stereo MW600 BT headphone receiver. (Also paired with the iPad)

        I hate getting a call in the car.. and have to turn BT back on JUST to answer the damn call.

        BT has so many other uses, and low battery usage, that I don’t bother turning it off. (Sometimes I do when I’m using the iPod and don’t want the iPhone interrupting me. Times during the day I really can’t take calls.. but I can still listen to music/podcasts. Just don’t tell the boss 😉 )

    3. I do… I use it for the door locks. I use it for music in my car. I use it for listening to music on my headphones or portable speakers. I use it for getting ODB-II sensor info. I use it for phone calls.

      Bluetooth use so little energy that it’s really not worth turning it off even if I were to use it just once a day.

  2. This is really poor reporting and total misunderstanding of the technology. iOS doesn’t broadcast anything, it’s up to an app to listen to nearby – and specific – beacons for location.

    Such apps require Location tracking permission. If you don’t accept it or you remove the app the beacons can’t track you.

    1. How would you know? On Mavericks, Little Snitch catches Apple phoning home several times a day — without Apple explaining why. I doubt iBeacon will alert the user every time it locates you. Apple’s user agreement already gives them free reign over tracking you whenever you have any location service turned on. With iAd and iBeacon, Apple has shown that its hardware profits simply aren’t enough. They are now in the ad business, just like Google. Sad.

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