eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Trends: Apple Responds to the iPhone/iPad Location Controversy


Yesterday, we talked about the latest litigation for Apple, which was sued for alleged privacy invasion and computer fraud by two customers in a federal complaint in Tampa, Florida who claim the company is secretly recording and storing the location and movement of iPhone and iPad users.  Yesterday, Apple issued a press release response to questions regarding this controversy, published here on Business Wire.


  • Apple reiterated that they are “not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”
  • Instead, according to Apple, the iPhone is “maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.”
  • Apple says that the “database is too big to store on an iPhone, so [they] download an appropriate subset (cache) onto each iPhone. This cache is protected but not encrypted, and is backed up in iTunes whenever you back up your iPhone.”
  • Geo-tagged Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form” and “ Apple cannot identify the source of this data.”
  • The reason the iPhone stores up to a year’s worth of location data is “a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly”.  “We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.”
  • The iPhone sometimes shouldn’t continue updating its Wi-Fi and cell tower data when Location Services is turned off.  “This is a bug, which we plan to fix shortly”.
  • Apple also noted that they will release a free iOS software update “sometime in the next few weeks” that: “reduces the size” of the database cached on the iPhone, “ceases backing up the cache”, and “deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off”.

We’ll see how this press release impacts the litigation and various regulatory investigations.

So, what do you think?  Have you been involved in a case where GPS location data was relevant?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.