Apple collecting and sharing location data

Apple has made major changes to its iTunes End User License Agreement (EULA) which some might find disturbing.

In order to use yesterday's major free iOS4 update to Apple's iDevices, users will have first needed to download and install the latest version of iTunes.

On installing version 9.2 of the media-playing software, which is essential for all iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users, you will have been asked to digitally sign Apple's EULA.

If like most people you just click the disclaimers willy nilly, you won't have noticed a new clause Apple has added to the written contract between the two of you, which states that Apple can collect geographical data on where you are when you use or download Apps, and share that data with whoever the hell they want to.

The Apple privacy policy update states:

To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.

Some location-based services offered by Apple, such as the MobileMe "Find My iPhone" feature, require your personal information for the feature to work.

In short, the location data will be used to target advertising served by Apple's new iAd service. Apple has provided an opt-out procedure for those who don't want to be bombarded with ads for local services, but the company points out that you'll still be bombarded, just by ads with a lower level of geographical relevance.

It is also buried deep within an EULA document which very few people will read:

Apple and its partners use cookies and other technologies in mobile advertising services to control the number of times you see a given ad, deliver ads that relate to your interests, and measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns. If you do not want to receive ads with this level of relevance on your mobile device, you can opt out by accessing the following link on your device: http://oo.apple.com. If you opt out, you will continue to receive the same number of mobile ads, but they may be less relevant because they will not be based on your interests. You may still see ads related to the content on a web page or in an application or based on other non-personal information. This opt-out applies only to Apple advertising services and does not affect interest-based advertising from other advertising networks.

Despite trying on a number of occasions to follow the link and opt out of the scheme on our newly-updated iPhones, we keep getting the same error message which tells us that we're not running iOS4. And we really are. Look.

Waddya mean we're not running iOS4?

A number of other news sites and blogs are reporting similar problems. Come on Apple. Sort it out.