Apple admitted the issue to TechCrunch, but only after security specialist Brian Krebs published research showing Apple’s privacy violation. Apple dismissed the finding as “expected behavior” at first, but has since clarified the “background checks” are caused by the iPhone 11’s new Ultra-wideband chip.
“Ultra-wideband technology is an industry-standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations,” Apple said in its statement. “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra-wideband and comply with regulations.”
Apple claims “The management of ultra-wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device. Apple is not collecting user location data.” This is true based on the research, but it’s Apple’s next steps that are suspicious.
The company has promised to disable these location checks in the next iOS update — something that could have been done the first time.
This isn’t Apple’s only data protection controversy. Just a few months ago, the company admitted to hiring contractors to secretly listen to Siri audio snippets from iPhones.
Apple’s Privacy page states “At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right.” Users are awaiting updates that will ensure this very thing.