A security expert claims that the iPhone 11 Pro may still track users’ locations even after having its location services disabled. Apple’s response is that the company “does “not see any actual security implications.”
Security researcher Brian Krebs published a report recently documenting odd behavior he noted on the iPhone 11 Pro. Krebs found that despite giving users the option to disable location services, which apps use to track a user’s location for a variety of utilities such as weather reports and restaurant suggestions the iPhone 11 Pro continued to periodically collection location data even when all apps that may use the location data are disabled.
The policy explains users can disable all location services entirely with one swipe (by navigating to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, then switching “Location Services” to “off”). When one does this, the location services indicator — a small diagonal upward arrow to the left of the battery icon — no longer appears unless Location Services is re-enabled.
But Krebs notes that the iPhone often still appears to collect location data even after disabling any services or apps which may use the phones’ Location Services:
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.
Krebs provided a video showing this issue in action:
Krebs reached out to Apple about the bug who told him in a statement: “We do not see any actual security implications. 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.”
Krebs took the response to mean that Apple is stating that the iPhone may have some system services that query users’ location regardless of whether the user has disabled the setting individually for all apps and iOS system services. So far, Apple has not responded to Krebs’s follow up questions.