Apple addresses location privacy issue with iPhone 11 chip in second iOS 13.3.1 beta

After a little privacy snafu last month around the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro still tracking location data even when users had turned off location services, Apple has added a toggle specifically for the UWB chip in the latest iOS 13.3.1 beta.

KrebsOnSecurity discovered the behavior of the iPhone 11 Pro continuing to track user locations even when all of the available locations services toggles are turned off (except for the master switch). This caused a flurry of concerns as the reason wasn’t immediately clear.

At first, Apple gave a vague answer, saying they didn’t see any issue…

“We do not see any actual security implications,” an Apple engineer wrote in a response to KrebsOnSecurity. “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.”

When that created more questions and concerns, Apple shared the following day that the behavior was due to the fact the UWB chip in the new iPhones isn’t approved broadly around the world, so the iPhone 11 uses location services to check if UWB can be used or not and that:

“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.

Lastly, Apple said in December that it would bring a dedicated toggle in location services to allow customers to completely turn off the feature.

Spotted by Brandon Butch, the second iOS 13.3.1 beta brings that toggle and it is labeled as “Networking & Wireless” under Privacy > Locations Services > System Services.