Apple iOS 13.3.1 beta has added a toggle to turn off Ultra-Wideband (UWB) on iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro after privacy concerns that the location data of users were being tracked even after they disabled location services. The location privacy issues were pointed out by KrebsOnSecurity security researcher last December, who revealed that iPhone 11 Pro still intermittently seeks user’s location information even when disabled from doing so.
But an Apple engineering said in a response to the researcher that the company does not see any actual implications as it is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Sevices is enabled. “The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings,” the reply read.
However, Apple followed up with another statement to TechCrunch in which it confirmed that a toggle dedicated to completely disable location tracking will be added. The company explained that Location Services is required to determine when to disable ultra-wideband technology on iPhones in prohibited locations as UWB is subject to “regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations.”
Apple also clarified that location data of users was not sent to its servers and the management of UWB compliance was done entirely on device. The toggle to switch off location services completely is reportedly labeled “Networking & Wireless”, which can be found under Privacy settings on iPhones.
To recall, new privacy controls that Apple introduced with iOS 13 raised privacy concerns, especially with location services, which give continuous reminders when a particular app is using their location data in the background. Though the controls are more rigid and give users more control over which apps use their location data, the concern is that more and more users are blocking location data access even for some apps for which ‘Always Allow’ access is better like Google Maps and Tile.
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