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Apple to ban location tracking software that sold data to U.S. military

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Apple iPhone Privacy Ad (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple and Google are banning X-Mode Social Inc. from their operating systems.
  • The companies discovered that the firm was selling location data to the U.S. military.

Reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple and Google are banning data broker X-Mode Social In.c from collecting any location data from any device running their operating systems. Each company informed developers that they must remove X-Mode's tracking software from their apps or potentially lose access to offer their apps on the App Store or the Google Play Store.

The ban came in response to learning that X-Mode was collecting information from apps and selling it to contractors that worked with the United States military. While Apple is giving developers two weeks to remove the tracking software from their apps, Google is only giving developers seven days to make the change.

In a statement provided by a spokesman, Google said developers had seven days to remove X-Mode or face a ban from Google's Play store, adding that some developers could ask for an extension of up to 30 days. An Apple representative confirmed that the company had given developers notice that they had two weeks to remove X-Mode's trackers.

Each company has also informed Senator Ron Wyden, who has been leading an investigation into the matter.

Both Apple and Google disclosed their decision to ban X-Mode to investigators working for Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), who has been conducting an investigation into the sale of location data to government entities.

Apple has long had a strong stance when it comes to privacy and limiting data collection on its devices. Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, just gave a keynote speech reaffirming the company's commitment to privacy and data minimization.

Joe Wituschek
Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.