New Apple terms allow them to collect and share your "precise, real-time location"

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60 Responses to “New Apple terms allow them to collect and share your "precise, real-time location"”

  1. magic_dot says:

    My real time location is precisely what identifies me. I am corporeal.

  2. adonai says:

    Here come the apologists, beating each other to be first to declaim that Apple would never, ever do something that is against our best interests. And if they did, it’s only to make something Just Work a bit better.

    Funny, because if it were MS doing something like this in Windows Phone 7 or what have you, there’d be pretty much universal condemnation.

  3. peterbruells says:

    Apart from the quibbling about the may/will issue – I understand Apple’s statement as conforming to the current practice of giving the use control about location services – I can’t help but smile about the juxtaposition with the Google article

    Big bad Apple is gonna follow you around (O noes!) but hey, look (just look at it!) this nifty way of telling Google where and when I’m going to date Ellen, not only exposing *my* location but that of Ellern, too.

    Well, at least I get nifty ads about wedding rings by this, while Appe probably wan’t to harvest my liver for Steve Jobs, eh?

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      What you’re noticing is that there are ethical and unethical ways to gather your information:

      Ethical: When I give you my location in order to provide a service for me, you know that location, to the extent that you must to provide the service. I can delete that record at any time. I can export all the information I’ve given you at any time. Any time you change the terms, they act only prospectively; I’m not locked into using your service in order to go on enjoying my property, such as an expensive mobile device (especially one where acquiring it requires a multi-year contract with a mobile company).

      Unethical: You dictate that in order to go on enjoying the property I’ve paid for, and in order to go on using the long-term contract I’ve had to buy into in order to use the device in the first place, that I must consent to you gathering my location information when it suits your purpose. I can’t opt out of this collection. I can’t see what you’ve collected. I can’t delete what you’ve collected. I can’t export what you’ve collected for my own purposes.

      I don’t see any contradiction with celebrating the former and damning the latter.

  4. Malak says:

    This whole ‘may’ issue falls apart when you consider that iAd is almost definitely ‘a location-based service’.

  5. agraham999 says:

    When will Google offer us all an opt-out for their Street View car data collection?

    ;-)

    They don’t offer opt out for reading my email. Or watching my web behavior. They already do IP based collection and direction of ads. They collect and save all their data. They have the infamous 2038 cookie. Eric Schmidt even says privacy doesn’t matter in his famous “maybe you shouldn’t be doing it” quote.

    I get that Android is all openey goodness filled with magical unicorn meat and sparkles…but their behavior is not any more nefarious than Apple…in fact it is much more nefarious considering they are in fact in the INFORMATION business. But if there really is a privacy issue here it is more systemic of our culture and laws than whether or not Apple changes its ToS.

    All this talk about walled gardens and the awesomeness of not being evil is all bullshit to me. Google has walls…they’ve just done a great job of making them look transparent…and as for bad bad Apple and their terrible ToS and walled ecosystem…let’s remember that both Apple and Google are in the business of making money…they aren’t wonderful golden showers (ahem) of altruism. If you want real privacy laws and protections…then you need to complain to lawmakers as companies like Apple and Google only do what the law allows them to do. I can’t fault them for that…although I can choose not to use Google’s products as I’m more afraid of them than Apple.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I stopped using Microsoft’s OS because Vista collects user data. I also avoid Google for collection of user on-line and by their vehicles your wifi data. Now Apple wants to start that sh*t. FAIL! Apple is now ALSO off my list… Let hell freeze before I by anything from Apple or any of the other offenders ever again.

  7. DirkSJ says:

    I personally don’t think what Google does is relevant to the conversation. They probably shouldn’t have been brought in at all.

    Evilness is not relative in this case. A ToS can stand or fall on it’s own merits or weaknesses.

    This one is evil. Even moreso evil because it’s an after-the-fact evil. After you’ve spent hundreds of dollars and entered into a multi-year contract you are now thrust into it without any recourse other than paying MORE money to break the contract or just not using the device anymore…and all that money goes to waste.

    I could care less what Google does. They may be more, less, or just as evil…I don’t care. This ToS from Apple is evil and bad.

  8. ratcity says:

    http://www.marco.org/538830278

    If you upgrade using the phone itunes rather than the desktop itunes it seems like you’d have no problems at all.

    Did you know this when you said quote “you really can’t opt out of stuff this without your life being made a hell”?

  9. Blue says:

    I have to say I’m with Cory on this one: the idea that “may” (as in, we grant ourselves the right to do so, as and when we choose) is somehow significantly different from “will” (as in we will always do this under all circumstances) is the sort of contorted and spurious apologia that can only stem from a faith in Apple’s inherent ‘goodness’ that defies both reason and reality.

    It’s touching to have such faith in a corporation that has done so relatively little to earn it, don’t you think?

  10. Daemon says:

    Steve’s now a stalker as well as a fascist.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is also entirely possible, if not probable. that the ToS changes were added because of the updated ‘find my iPhone’ features in iOS4.

  12. Severius says:

    Good thing I completely refuse to use Apple software and hardware. For this and many other reasons.

  13. geobarefoot says:

    Practically speaking, what does this mean to the consumer? Accepting the fact they each person is a unit of information that is collected and marketed to every day in countless ways, is this something iPhone users should really be concerned about? There’s hypothetical concern (which is how this strikes me) and REAL concern. I’m a practical person, so practicalities are what interest me. If, at the end of the day, this is about marketing — fine, I’m strong enough and practiced enough to push back any and all marketing efforts. But if there’s something more going on here, I’d like to know.

  14. Cowicide says:

    Having read some 31 different Cloud Computing ToS (comparative analysis paper coming from QMUL soon, honest!) I have grave doubts about the extent to which most ToS are legally nitpicked in the manner you suggest.

    Cory continues to read off good points and valid reasoning… you keep reading off your resumé. I’ll go with Cory for the win on this debate.

  15. coop says:

    adonai – exactly.

    coop

  16. Ugly Canuck says:

    Hmmm…seems these phones are gold-mines of data.
    How does this item about tracking such data :

    http://web.media.mit.edu/~sandy/tr10pdfdownload.pdf

    – relate to this Apple story, if at all?

  17. aelfscine says:

    It seems pretty clear that Apple is quite willing to change how your product works at any given moment, quite possibly to your detriment. You thought you had an unlimited data plan on your shiny new iPad? Poof! It’s gone. We didn’t log your location? Not any more!

    Wonder what they’ll change up next!

  18. Beryllium says:

    If you want to go off the grid, step one is *not having a freaking cellphone*.

    (Or at least turning it off until there’s an emergency, and in such scenario you’d most likely want your location available anyway. Heh.)

  19. Anonymous says:

    Steve Jobs knows where you are.
    He knows if you’ve been bad or good.
    And if he needs another spleen, he just might come for yours.

  20. imag says:

    I’m completely with Cory on this one. “May” in a contract context damn well means that party “may” do something whenever they please. They don’t need to say “will” to do it whenever they want.

    In fact, there is no way Apple lawyers would ever approve the use of “will” in this context, as it would mean that Apple was now *obligated* contractually to do all the things being referred to. They don’t want to be obligated to do anything, but they want to be able to do it whenever they want. Hence: “May”.

    And even if Apple doesn’t plan on using this data nefariously, I agree that it’s completely BS to change how a piece of hardware works after the fact. I don’t see how any rational person could be interested in buying one of the Apple toys. Do you feel hip and savvy and counterculture when a company says, “here’s how I’m going to take you up the a–”?

    If Apple is getting the data, they are storing it. If they are storing it, it can be used to find out, systematically, where you have been. So-called anonymous always-on location data is BS. How many people in the world both live and work where you do? Guess what? It’s that easy to find out who you are. It’s also easy for an interested party to find out all the people who were at the “exercise your free speech” conference, and then to track them back to their homes. If you committed a crime, Apple has the indisputable proof.

    Fsck that. If aren’t outraged by this, you have little understanding of what your rights are or why you have them. Says me anyway ;)

  21. dculberson says:

    Imag’s right. I draft leases and whenever there’s something that you intend to do as a Landlord but don’t want to be required to do, the word may is used. That means that the licensor can do it as much as they want but the licensee can not compel the licensor to do it. It’s a one way street that gives the licensor the power.

  22. libelle says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point that *by carrying a cell phone at all* you are effectively broadcasting your location to the phone company.

    The phone company (in reality, an amorphous aggregate of all telecommunication providers) needs this information in order to make your telephone ring when someone calls you.

    If you believe that this information just satisfies that end, and the company is done with it, I think you’re naive. We know that many of the phone companies in the US cooperate semi-openly with shadowy government data mining operations. I don’t have hard evidence, but would be shocked to learn that other organizations aren’t using this data.

    After all, we *know* the phone companies use it to compile heat maps of activity versus income — how else will they know where to put in new towers? Does that information go to their partners? Terms of service for most phone companies state they can share your information. I doubt they’ll be passing up this revenue stream.

    Take a look sometime at the demographic systems used by the ad industry. It’s shocking to what resolution they have data: income, education level, religion, you name it. They may or may not have it down to the individual (at least in a format that they share), but they certainly do at the household resolution.

    What’s my point? To paraphrase Eric Schmidt, privacy’s dead in the US. If you don’t want to be tracked, get rid of your cell phone, shred your credit cards, cancel your TV, magazine, and internet subscriptions, and ditch your club cards, kill your facebook account, don’t post about yourself on blogs, don’t upload pictures to sharing sites (at least not without nerfing the exif), don’t drive a car, don’t go to Great Britain or places of business in the US where there are cameras, etc.

    I’m sorry to say, but we lost this war several decades ago.

    Now it’s all about chaffing.

  23. Absent says:

    Could add a whole new dimension to iAds. If you thought Phrom was bad…..

  24. Anonymous says:

    Umm, so it’s not personally identifiable information, unless of course you take your phone home everyday to sleep at night.

    Privacy Fail.

  25. The Raven says:

    “Gee, boss, I wonder if there’s a government agency that might be interested in that data?”

    “The government would never do that. There’s No Such Agency.”

    Croak!

  26. Stooge says:

    Cory, do you have any evidence at all that disabling Location Services on i-products and Snow Leopard Macs doesn’t actually do what it claims to do?

    If not, your claim isn’t particularly relevant to this universe.

  27. Yamara says:

    I’ve just uninstalled all the Apple updating software on our PC. I feel like I’m getting more and more productive without Jobs’s overly-massaged feel-good pile of packing peanuts around me.

    Thanks again for the reminder, Cory.

  28. elfspice says:

    wow! they seriously thought such a contract wouldn’t upset anyone? bets on how long it takes them to retract this patently ridiculous agreement.

  29. agraham999 says:

    Um…you do know Apple isn’t the first to do this? Android does it too.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is an opt-out option for Android, I believe.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      Where in the Android ToS does it say that you can’t opt out of location-gathering, logging and reporting?

      When I use location services on my NexusOne, it asks me whether I’d like to opt in, and I don’t.

      • Stooge says:

        Cory, on the iPhone all apps require user consent before having access to location services, and in Location Services settings you can revoke that consent globally or for an individual application at any time.

        As I don’t have an Android phone at the mo, can you explain in what way the two systems differ? For example, when you use Google maps, do you have an additional option which enables it to work without sharing your location with Google?

  30. lewis stoole says:

    for what purpose does this specifically serve?
    and why is it required?

  31. current says:

    Every iPhone App has to specifically ask the user if it is allowed to use location data – every time.
    And you can opt-out of interest-based ads from iAds at https://oo.apple.com

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      As the FA explains, the new Apple ToS says, no matter whether you opt into any individual app vendor’s collection of your location data, *Apple* will continue to collect your location data, and will share that with third parties. You can’t opt out of this collection (oo.apple.com opts out of getting ads, not having your “real-time, precise location” data gathered and shared).

      This is different from Android, in that Google does not gather your information unless you opt in, and if you do opt in, you can opt out later.

      By contrast, Apple gathers your information without asking you to opt in, and does not present you with the option of opting out.

      What’s more, Apple is presenting these new terms retrospectively. People who bought iPads and iPods on the understanding that they could be used without having their location information gathered and shared now find that they *must* allow this information to be gathered and shared (I suppose you could try not updating iTunes, but then you would also have to not upgrade your OS — OS upgrades come with iTunes upgrades — and be prepared to be locked out of the app store, and since Apple’s use of DRM prevents third parties from putting apps on your devices, you’re fundamentally abandoning any hope of loading any code, even third-party code, onto your iPad and iPod).

      • Simon Bradshaw says:

        Cory,

        As you know I look at IT laws and contracts both for my day job and for ORG. I’ve seen much nastier terms that this and I honestly think it doesn’t quite do what you think it does.

        “To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.”

        Let’s break that down.

        ‘To provide location based services…’ – this is setting a condition on the legitimate purposes that the data collection can be used for, namely the provision of services that use that data. Under this clause, neither Apple nor anyone else can collect that data and use it to, for instance, look for particular concentrations of iPhone users to sell to advertisers. It has to be used for specific provision of services, and as other comments have noted, you are always asked about this and you can disable it.

        ‘Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device’

        That’s may, a permissive not mandatory term. And it’s conditional on that collection being for the purpose of providing location-based services which the user can opt out of.

        As ToS go, these are frankly a lot less scary than most. In other words, they’re merely generally rather bad rather than extremely consumer-unfriendly. Terms like this are very common because they allow the provider to legitimately take data from you. All this term does is get me to agree that for certain purposes (which I in practice have to allow on an app-by-app basis) I am letting Apple or App providers use the GPS data in my iPhone to allow those specific services to work.

        Let’s contrast this with clause 2.1 of Facebook’s ToS (or ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities’ to use Facebook’s term:

        “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

        Note where it says ‘…to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.’ It sets no condition whatsoever on how Facebook will use it: if you share a picture on Facebook, Facebook can use it in their advertising material, and you’ve agreed so. And if you do anything that results in Facebook getting a letter from some lawyers, you’d better have deep pockets, because by using Facebook you agree to clause 15.2:

        “If anyone brings a claim against us related to your actions, content or information on Facebook, you will indemnify and hold us harmless from and against all damages, losses, and expenses of any kind (including reasonable legal fees and costs) related to such claim.”

        In summary, this Apple ToS clause is not really as wide-ranging or evil as it looks, and it is certainly less so than clauses found in some other popular online services.

        • Cory Doctorow says:

          I think you’ve got it wrong, Simon.

          On the question of “may” versus “will” — Apple isn’t promising to follow you around, but they’re saying that they might, and by using their devices, you consent to them doing this.

          On the question of “to provide and improve location based services,” this doesn’t say, “To provide abnd improve services to YOU” — it says “to improve the services” themselves. Which means that Apple is reserving the right to gather as much info as they want in order, for example, to be able to answer questions like “How many people traverse this post-code every day?” or “How many people are in this cafe every day?”

          On the question of “for example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in,” this does not follow any kind of promise of limitation to that example.

          Apple’s contract lawyers know what these terms mean. They have pricey law-degrees and pedigrees from top-notch firms. When Apple wants to write a ToS that says,

          “We will only gather information when you opt in, and then only as much as we need to provide the services you’re opting in to, and then we will anonymize that data as much as we can,”

          they are perfectly capable of doing so.

          On the other hand, when they write a clause that says,

          “All iPad/iPod users’ real-time, precise location data may be collected at any time, and can be shared with anyone, any time we believe such sharing will improve or provide a service — not necessarily to you — though we’ll anonymize it as much as possible,”

          then it’s reasonable to assume they didn’t accidentally omit the privacy guarantees (nor is it reasonable to assume that they accidentally revised a previous set of terms that DID allow for an explicit opt-out of this data-gathering with a new set that removes that explicit opt-out).

          • Simon Bradshaw says:

            Cory,

            I think we’re going to have differing interpretations of this.

            Having read some 31 different Cloud Computing ToS (comparative analysis paper coming from QMUL soon, honest!) I have grave doubts about the extent to which most ToS are legally nitpicked in the manner you suggest. If nothing else, lawyers are expensive and the more time you ask them to spend coming up with bulletproof ToS that are both customer-friendly and protect the corporate interest (not entirely consistent concepts) the more money you end up paying.

            Another point to remember is that I use my iPhone under the ToS for iTunes applicable to consumers in the UK. These specify that my relationship with Apple (including the Privacy Policy) is governed by English law. (I expect some of my iPhone-using friends in Scotland will fume quietly at that.) This means that the Data Protection Act applies, so Apple is constrained to an extent – although the DPA is by no means perfect – in what it can do with information it gathers from me.

            In short, I think if a lawyer for Apple stood up in court and tried to justify the sort of data-sharing you have concerns about by reference to the ToS, he or she might get pretty short shrift.

          • Cory Doctorow says:

            Well, I hope you’re right, Simon. But I think it’s pretty damning that Apple changed from a ToS that *did* have an explicit opt-out which limited data-gathering to one that has no such opt-out. It may be that they’re trying it on and it wouldn’t hold up in court, but that’s not very reassuring when it comes to their intentions.

          • frijole says:

            I think it’s pretty damning that Apple changed from a ToS that *did* have an explicit opt-out…

            Mind sharing your copy of the previous version? I can’t find it this morning.

        • BurntHombre says:

          Interesting analysis — thanks, Simon!

  32. millenomi says:

    Troubling.

    Apple has an history of not overstepping on the user’s privacy (they do have the best marketing division in the known universe). The fact that they legally can remains troubling, though. It does allow app developers to use location services without having to present each user with a privacy agreement, tho (although like all crooked laws it does more than that).

    Cory: one of the things that makes me angry about your coverage is that you don’t seem to care to have all your facts straight, possibly in a rush to bash on your personal Goliath. Apple does have faults; but:
    • no, OS updates are not packaged with iTunes updates, although you might need a new iTunes version to install the latest update;
    • and no, not installing a OS update won’t ban you from App Store (though apps using newer OS functionality of course will not be updateable). In fact, the latest version of iTunes can still service and sync all iPods, back to the original model, regardless of the software they run.

    Please — for the love of whatever — if you want to bash Apple by all means do it, but do it with your facts straight.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      “• no, OS updates are not packaged with iTunes updates, although you might need a new iTunes version to install the latest update;”

      Which is to say, you can’t update your OS without updating iTunes.

      “• and no, not installing a OS update won’t ban you from App Store (though apps using newer OS functionality of course will not be updateable). In fact, the latest version of iTunes can still service and sync all iPods, back to the original model, regardless of the software they run.”

      So a totally unpatched, out-of-the-box Gen-1 iPhone can really and truly buy and run any app in the App Store? And an unpatched, iTunes 3 or 4 can buy any DRM-crippled content Apple sells? I find this claim unlikely (for one thing, it owuld violate Apple’s obligations under DTLA and HDCP). Have you tried it?

      As to whatever motives you choose to impute to me, by all means, believe whatever you wish.

      • Laroquod says:

        “So a totally unpatched, out-of-the-box Gen-1 iPhone can really and truly buy and run any app in the App Store?”

        Yeah, not even close. Until just a few days ago I had my iPhone 3G still running 2.2.1. This was my experience. Within *one month* of the release of OS3.0, apps started to disappear off my iPhone. I don’t mean that I couldn’t install them anymore, I mean that upgrades would be sent to my phone that are incompatible without notice (there is no minimum compatibility field in the App Store, the only OS listed it latest that is compatible), and Apple’s solution to that is to delete the *previous, perfectly comptible* version off my phone *and* refuse to install the new one.

        So there was no way to predict which apps would die and thus no way to upgrade anything without risking losing *everything*. So, every once in a while, I’d take the risk, and month after month more apps dropped off my phone against my will, until finally after a year I was left with less than half of the apps I had installed to begin with, none of them removed by choice, and definitely none that remained were any of the good ones.

        ‘You like that game, eh? Gone! Oh you were using that eReader so much so you went looking for an upgrade? Well, now you can’t use it at all. Psych! RSS?? Don’t make me laugh. And I know you’ve been forced to change Twitter clients 3 times, but guess what? You’re changing again. No choice, pal!’

        Doesn’t take much of this to learn to *loathe* not upgrading a device. I’m with Cory on the may/will (and totally call bullshit on the dude who didn’t get that may doesn’t mean ‘probably won’t’), and even more so on the fact that you really can’t opt out of stuff this without your life being made a hell of a sort you *definitely* didn’t sign up for.

  33. Counterglow says:

    I can’t wait to see the next “I’m a PC/I’m a Mac” ad. Perhaps the smiling, relaxed Mac guy will start to show a little fang.

  34. millenomi says:

    To clarify: even phones running on the very first App Store-enabled OS can still access it and use it all of the features that work on their device. No one forces anyone to upgrade.

    (Terms of use will however apply to all Store users regardless, as soon as they’re accepted. In that sense, yes, Apple won’t provide users with Store downloads until they’re subject to the above. That is genuinely troubling, but not apparent from the above comments. Not updating will however give technical means to the user to ignore this clause.)

    (In fact, iTunes Store is still accessible from iTunes 4.7, if one can believe it.)

  35. Xenu says:

    Google Search has done this for ages.

  36. adwkiwi says:

    Cory, that ToS says ‘may’ collect, not ‘will’. I read that as just saying that getting that sort of info will crop up from time to time for a service provided by Apple, their partners or their licensees.

    I don’t see how this is different from what has been the norm so far, as others have mentioned; but one question does occur, namely why is this a new addition to the ToS? What did it say previously?

  37. RREugen says:

    Hmm, I don’t know what to say. I mean, there are a lot of persons way more dubious than Apple people who know my precise, real-time location.

    Like, last night, it was quite a weather storm outside, and I saw a bum from the window, he was rolling in the stream of water in the street and yelled to someone up in the sky.

    There was nobody up in the sky. I checked. Anyway, the bum saw me. So there. Should I worry about Apple?

  38. housewarmer says:

    Nonsense Cory. Only a painfully tortured reading of the relevant section supports your Big Brother Steve hypothesis. While the wording isn’t crystal clear, it strongly indicates that location data is gathered on an opt-in basis, and nowhere does it state anything about continuous or unprompted (by the user) data collection. Further, there’s no mention of sharing data with out user consent, in fact the only example use case provided explicitly mentions opt-in.

    More damning to your already limp argument is the way location services actually function on the device. No location service can even activate without user consent. Even google maps requires approval. This means that the gps hardware isn’t even activated. Further, if Apple were to gather location data outside of user authorized instances that would require frequent access to the gps radio which would adversely affect battery life — that’s anathema to Apple.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      Well, that would be true if the GPS were the only way to gather location information. But, of course, it’s only one of several ways that mobile devices ascertain their location, including cellular triangulation, IP address, and WiFi AP MAC addresses.

      • housewarmer says:

        I’m well aware of the various means of location sensing. Those functions simply are not active on any iOS device I’ve used unless requested by the user (either explicit invocation, or though a previously opted-in app).

        Regarding legacy versions of iTunes and iOS devices accessing current iTunes content, well it depends. Of course an unpatched gen1 iOS device can’t run ANY apps from the app store as that feature wasn’t introduced until iOS 2. But, no, an iOS 2 device won’t be able to run every app on the app store – not because of any sort of artificial restriction, but because developers have targeted features provided by newer versions of the OS. To reiterate, I could, if I really wanted to, write and publish an app that could be run by any iOS version (greater than 1).

        As far as media is concerned, I’m positive that any DRM’d music files will play in any version of iTunes that supports the music store. I haven’t tried video content, but I imaging that any version of iTunes that supported the video store would be able to play any DRM’d video.

      • Eltanin Antenna says:

        Cory, “Location Services” are exactly that – it doesn’t matter which specific hardware device the App is using. The iPod Touch and the Wi-Fi iPads don’t have GPS, but they still use and report Location Services.

        This is in no way different from what Google have been openly doing from the beginning with Android. Of course there are ethical and unethical ways to gather information, but the operative definition around here appears to be:

        Unethical: Whatever Apple does.
        Ethical: Whatever Google does.

        • Jerril says:

          This is in no way different from what Google have been openly doing from the beginning with Android. Of course there are ethical and unethical ways to gather information, but the operative definition around here appears to be:

          Unethical: Whatever Apple does.
          Ethical: Whatever Google does.

          In the sense that Google appears to (so far) be following the ethical ways to gather locational information, and Apple is (now) not, yes.

          There is a big difference from me voluntarily giving up information for one specific service, and that information being involuntarily taken and for very vague purposes.

          Having this major change be not-optional and forced on users AFTER THE PURCHASE is a “bait and switch” situation. Had these been the conditions when he bought his i-widgets and Cory went through with the transaction anyways, that’s one thing. This is another thing entirely.

          I am not a Google fangirl or an Apple hater. I don’t particularly trust Google with my locational data either, or frankly almost any of my data. But that’s my choice – and I know it’s my choice to upload all of my documents to the google cloud, let them archive all my email, track my searching, and know where I am so services and advertisements can be targeted to my specific location, tastes, interests, etc and those of my personal contacts. My buddy with his Android phone isn’t forced to opt in to any of these either. My husband with his iPhone IS.

          • peterbruells says:

            Actually, Google (and of course) Facebook knows lots of stuff about me, without me using their cloud services. And about you, too.

  39. DirkSJ says:

    “To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.”
    iAds is a location based service. So:

    “To provide iAds, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.”
    No opt out specified or required.

    I could write a 3rd party “location-based service” app that tracked what coffee shops you were at through cellular triangulation. I could then sell this code to Starbucks and Starbucks could offer Apple a pile of money to install it on all iDevices.

    They could then figure out what coffee shops people go to, what percent of iUsers go to Starbucks vs other coffee shops, average amount of time spent there, etc.

    This is perfectly allowable under the above. There would be no required opt-out. It would push automatically to all iDevices with whatever newest patch comes out.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Michael,

    Nobody’s objective, even if some people get closer to it than others. Cory’s post can be judged on its own merits, and I think it does have merit.

    The updated Apple terms are pretty questionable, and seem to me like an unnecessary overreach.

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