Why it matters: Apple has long positioned itself as the one tech company that respects and protects its users’ privacy, so this won’t be welcome news. According to a security researcher, the iPhone 11 will collect your location data even when instructed not to.
KrebsOnSecurity’s Brian Krebs noted that the iPhone 11 Pro “intermittently seeks the user’s location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data.” Apple says that this isn’t a bug but by design.
Users can turn off all location services on the iPhone by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and toggling the option. For those who don’t want a total block, it’s also possible to turn off location services for each individual app and system service. But Krebs notes that “there are some system services on this model (and possibly other iPhone 11 models) which request location data and cannot be disabled by users without completely turning off location services.”
So, even if you switch off location services for every app and system service, the handset will still be seeking your location occasionally. The only way to stop it completely is to switch the master setting for location services to Off.
In a statement, Apple explained that this wasn’t a security issue. “We do not see any actual security implications,” wrote a company engineer. “It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.”
Turning off the master setting for location services is easy enough, but if a user picks a single app, such as Maps, to use the feature, they would expect that app to be the only one accessing their location.
Earlier this week, Apple admitted that some 13-inch MacBook Pros were shutting down unexpectedly.