During Ina Fried’s high profile question and answer phone session with Apple executives Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller, she managed to eke out more details concerning the location tracking bug that has raised privacy concerns.
Jobs on accusations of location tracking in iOS:
When people accuse us of things, the first thing we want to do is find out the truth. That took a certain amount of time to track all of these things down. And the accusations were coming day by day. By the time we had figured this all out, it took a few days. Then writing it up and trying to make it intelligible when this is a very high-tech topic took a few days. And here we are less than a week later.
Apple should respond to this, and it looks like they will be.
Fried: A bunch of folks on the regulatory side, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, said they are going to look into this. Do you guys plan on testifying before Congress? How active do you personally and does Apple want to be?
Jobs: I think Apple will be testifying. They have asked us to come and we will honor their request, of course. I think it is great that they are investigating this and I think it will be interesting to see how agressive or lazy the press is on this in terms of investigating the rest of the participants in the industry and finding out what they do. Some of them don’t do what we do. That’s for sure.
The preemptive slam against the non-tech savvy media was a nice touch. Our mainstream news outlets seem to increasingly botch science and technology reporting – often to build hype and, with issues such as this, to unnecessarily raise panic amongst the people.
iOS has many location tracking features built-in and it’s reasonable to believe that storing location was a harmless oversight. Apps are able to access location information for various purposes: Yelp, foursquare, Find My iPhone.
What, if anything, Apple is doing with this stored information will hopefully come to light in next month’s Congressional hearing.