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South Korea regulator fines Apple for collecting iPhone user location information

South Korean regulators on Wednesday fined Apple [corporate website] USD $2,855 for collecting location information from its iPhone and iPad users. It is the first time Apple has been punished for collecting location information [Reuters report] from users of its widely popular mobile computing products. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) [official website] imposed the fine after it discovered that the iPhone collected users' location data and stored it for up to a year even when the users thought the location feature was turned off. The KCC also ordered Apple and its mobile computing rival Google [corporate website] to encrypt location data. Apple said that it does not track the location of its users and does not intend to do so. In April, British researchers Alasdair Allan and Peter Warden revealed the the prior version of the iPhone operating system was storing the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates [AFP report] of the its users' movements and could be access by anyone on the phone.

South Korea has already been investigating Google over data collection. In January, the South Korea National Police Agency [official website, in Korean] announced it had found evidence that Google illegally collected private data [JURIST report] in the process of producing its popular Street View [website] mapping service. The illegally captured data included hundreds of thousands of emails, instant messages, passwords and search histories [Korea Times report] through unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. The information was discovered on 79 hard disks [JoongAng Daily report] seized from Google's Seoul office, which police raided [JURIST report] last year. Earlier this year, the Obama administration backed Internet privacy legislation [JURIST report] at a hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation [official website]. The hearing followed reports released in December by the US Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [reports, PDF] petitioning for stronger online privacy protections, while maintaining the innovation of the Internet.

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