iPhone 11Source: iMore

What you need to know

  • A security report claims that Apple's iPhone 11 Pro is using location data even when location services are set to "never".
  • The report suggests that there are some system services using location data on the new iPhone which cannot be disabled by users.
  • According to the report, Apple says that this is expected behavior.

A report suggests that Apple's iPhone 11 Pro is using location data, even if you think you've switched off your location services.

According to KrebsonSecurity:

One of the more curious behaviors of Apple's new iPhone 11 Pro is that it 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 this is by design, but that response seems at odds with the company's own privacy policy.

The report first notes Apple's privacy policy, which explains what happens when your location services are turned on. It then highlights how the policy explains how a user can disable all location services by switching 'Location Services' to 'off' within iOS' privacy settings. The report then notes:

The policy continues: "You can also disable location-based system services by tapping on System Services and turning off each location-based system service." But apparently 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, as the arrow icon still appears periodically even after individually disabling all system services that use location.

An accompanying YouTube video shows an iPhone running iOS 13.2.3, in which all of the system services are individually toggled so as not to use location data. Despite this, the location services icon seems to intermittently show up on the device, suggesting location services are still in use.

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In response, an Apple engineer said:

"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"

"The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings."

As the report states, this seems to imply that even if you turn off location services for every single app and system service on your device, there are some services within iOS that you do not have the option to turn off. This means that the iPhone 11 Pro may be using location services regardless of what settings you select. The report notes that Apple has not responded to any follow-up questions regarding this issue. At this stage, it's totally unclear whether the phone is actually collecting any of the data, or if that data is being transmitted.

If the report is indeed true, it could raise some serious questions about Apple's Privacy, if its latest iPhone is found to be collecting and using location services despite the appearance that all such services can be disabled within iOS by users.

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