The iPhone's brand perception has taken a hit since it was found that Apple is recording user location data. In addition, a lawmaker is asking regulators to investigate.
surrounding Apple's practice of recording iPhone location data has dealt a blow
to the device maker's reputation, according to a study that took a look at the
brand perception of the iPhone in the wake of the controversy.
reputation could take an even greater hit if a congressman gets his way and
convinces federal regulators to take a look into Apple's practices.
The issue has
dogged Apple for more than a week, since tech researchers Alasdair Allan and
Pete Warden posted to O'Reilly Radar
April 20 that they'd discovered
that Apple was recording the positions of devices running iOS 4 in a
"hidden file" on iPhones and iPads. Still worse, the pair added, was
that "the file is unencrypted and unprotected, and it's on any machine
you've synched with your iOS device. It can also be easily accessed on the
device itself if it falls into the wrong hands. Anybody with access to this
file knows where you've been over the last year, since iOS 4 was
has included other lawmakers sending written demands to Apple CEO Steve Jobs for
greater clarification on Apple's practices. It also has rolled out to Google
and Microsoft, which also noted that their mobile operating systems record
location data from mobile devices.
Apple responded April 27
in a statement on its
Website, largely blaming a software bug in its iOS operating system for storing
the incredible amount of data and insisting that Apple isn't tracking its
users. The company also said it was planning a software fix to ensure that such
data is not kept for long periods of time.
are confused," Apple said in the statement, taking some of the blame for
failing to provide "enough education about these issues to date."
What Apple is
actually doing, the statement continued, is "maintaining a database of
WiFi hotspots and cell towers around your current location," in order to
reduce the time it takes an iPhone to "accurately calculate its location
says it can't pinpoint anyone's location, Warden and Allan created a visual presentation
of a portion of data found on Warden's phone; while far from street-level data,
it's a clear illustration of what the pair say was a trip from Washington, D.C.,
to New York City.
U.S. Rep. Jay
Inslee (D-Wash.) in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, called the
revolution a "disturbing discovery," and asked the agency to investigate the
matter and "determine the size and scope" of this "disturbing discovery."
In an April 22
letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Inslee criticized
Apple's practice, suggesting iPhone users were essentially kept in the dark
about the data recording and pointing out that Apple's only apparent disclosure
of this practice was buried in a lengthy terms and conditions agreement.
that no iPhone user was aware of this activity until two tech-savvy researchers
stumbled upon it illustrates the lack of adequate disclosure," Inslee
wrote. He continued, "In total, following the purchase of an iPhone, a
citizen's movements were tracked, recorded, stored permanently and left unprotected
on numerous devices-all without their informed consent. Mobile users deserve
mobile users were not pleased to hear the news.
two technology programmers revealed last week that Apple's iPhone contains
hidden software that regularly records the owner's location, the iPhone brand's
perception has plummeted from a buzz score of 31.7 on April 21 to a 2011 low of
7.4 for adults 18+," YouGov's BrandIndex
reported April 27. The
company tracks brand feedback on a range of 100 to -100, with 0 representing an
equal amount of positive and negative feedback. "To put the iPhone's fall
in greater perspective," the report continued, "the brand's buzz
score peak so far this year was 40.2 in mid-February. Its current score, while
still positive, is the lowest it has been all year."
Inslee, in his
letter, pressed the FTC to gain a full understanding of the purpose behind
Apple's data-collection practices, as well as "the length and extent of
this data collection, the method and extend of customer notification, the tools
provided to users to prevent this activity and the degree of data
backlash Apple has faced regarding the matter, Microsoft posted information to its site
how and when mobile phones running the Windows Phone OS collect location
information. Google has similarly tried
to be forthcoming
about such information.