Many iPhone users who upgraded their iPhones to the recently-released iOS 17 will be alarmed to hear that they may have actually downgraded their security and privacy. That’s because Apple took the opportunity to make a change to users’ privacy settings – without asking for permission, and without even notifying users it was doing so. Two security researchers who go by the name Mysk revealed that upgrading to iOS 17 can silently re-enable two privacy options that security experts have in the past recommended users switch off. The options, “Significant Locations” and “iPhone Analytics”, are buried deep within the settings of iOS. By default, they are enabled – but if you were sufficiently privacy-minded to have disabled them in the past, you would expect Apple to have respected your decision and not re-enabled them when applying the update to the iOS operating system.
“Significant Locations” is described by Apple as a way to allow your iPhone and iCloud-connected devices to learn places significant to you in order to provide useful location-related information in Maps, Calendar, Photos, and more. According to Mysk, the “Significant Locations” data remains local to your iPhone and is not accessed by Apple. Nonetheless, the concern is that if someone gains access to your device, they could easily gather information about the locations you frequently visit, putting you at risk.
“iPhone Analytics” data, on the other hand, is shared with Apple. It includes details about hardware and operating system specifications, performance statistics, and data about how you use your devices and applications. Apple uses this information to improve and develop its products and services. While Apple claims that none of the collected information identifies you personally, there is still a concern that patterns of visited locations could potentially identify an individual.
The primary issue here is not just the potential risk to privacy and security, but also the principle of the matter. Users who have consciously chosen to disable certain privacy settings do not expect Apple to turn them on again without any notification. It is important for individuals to check their iPhone’s privacy settings after updating the operating system to ensure they are configured according to their preferences.
1. Upgrading to iOS 17 can silently re-enable privacy options without user consent or notification.
2. The “Significant Locations” option allows your iPhone to learn and use location-related information.
3. “iPhone Analytics” data is shared with Apple to improve its products and services.
4. Patterns of visited locations could potentially identify individuals.
5. Users should check their privacy settings after updating their iPhone’s operating system.