Apple has admitted that the company still collects location data of iPhones even when the user has turned off location settings. This comes just after a security researcher found that iPhone 11 Pro was collecting data after the location settings were turned off.
KrebsOnSecurity identified the issue and published a video showcasing the location data collection after the user had selected ‘never’ for all individual system services and apps. The researcher then forwarded the issue to Apple who gave a generic reply stating that some services require location data and they continue to collect it even when the user has turned off location settings.
The policy [says in part]: “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.
As 9to5mac noted, completely turning off location services would work but if you’re turning off location services for individual apps then there are chances that those apps will still have access to location data.
We do not see any actual security implication. 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 noted that the statement contradicts with Apple’s claim that users get granular control over sharing their location. Apple hasn’t discussed more about the issue but for now, the company has confirmed that it indeed allow apps to collect location data even when the user has specifically blocked the app from doing so.