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Solved: iPhone 11 sneaks a peek at location data for Ultra Wideband

There was a minor tempest in a teapot earlier this week when security reporter Brian Krebs reported that an iPhone appeared to be searching for its location even when the location feature was turned off.

At the time, Apple said it was working as intended and wasn’t leaking data, but in its own vague and oblique way. Now we’ve got some more details, as Zack Whittaker reports at TechCrunch:

“Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations.”

“The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data,” the spokesperson said.

So basically, Apple needs to turn off Ultra Wideband in certain circumstances and so the iPhones with that feature (the iPhone 11 models) check to see where they are. That information doesn’t ever leave the phone. But Apple says it will add a setting to completely disable the location-sensing feature, and presumably Ultra Wideband along with it, in a forthcoming update.