Steve Jobs downplayed the level of data kept by Apple on users following a Gizmodo report last week that an extensive level of information is being compiled and stored from users’ iPhones.
Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle detailed how his iPhone 4 had literally tracked his every movement since July:
The data itself is jarringly accurate. And even though it appears to rely on tower triangulation rather than GPS pinpointing (meaning you’re not safe with location services switched off), the map I was able to generate with mapping software the security duo released visualizes my life since the day I bought my iPhone 4 in July. Everywhere I’ve been. Bus trips home. Train trips to visit family. Vacations. Places I’d forgotten I’d even gone. Zoom in on that giant blotch over New York, and you can see my travels, block by block. My entire personal and professional life—documented by a phone I didn’t know was also a full time location logging device.
Jobs has taken time out to explain the functions of the devices, minimizing the level of data regarding individual users. In a telephone interview, he explained:
“The files they found on these phones, as we explained, it turned out were basically files we have built through anonymous, crowdsourced information that we collect from the tens of millions of iPhones out there,” Jobs reportedly said.
Jobs said the issue was one of informing users:
“As new technology comes into the society, there is a period of adjustment and education,” Jobs said in the telephone interview. “We haven’t, as an industry, done a very good job educating people, I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such, (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the past week.”
In an earlier Q&A, Apple said the volume of data stored is a glitch they plan on fixing:
“The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly… We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.”
In May, Apple is set to take part in a Senate privacy hearing.