South Korea Fines Apple $2,830 Over iPhone Data Collection

iphonesApple’s controversial iPhone location-tracking practices aren’t sitting well with South Koreanauthorities — the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) has fined the company ₩3 million, which equates to a measly $2,830 USD, for violating the country’s location information laws.

Apple’s location-tracking controversy first came under attack in April in the United States, when researchers discovered that the iPhone includes a hidden file that stores latitude, longitude and timestamps.

Shortly after “Locationgate” arose, the company issued a statement, saying, “Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” That sentiment was echoed in an email from Steve Jobs and is now being reiterated word-for-word by Apple spokesperson Steve Park as a result of the KCC statement.

In its official statement and Q&A on location data in April, Apple explained:

“The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.”

This same argument still applies, but regardless, South Korea isn’t having Apple’s shenanigans. AP reports that in levying the fine, the KCC hopes to influence regulators elsewhere to do the same.

Frankly, it seems a bit silly to send a $2,830 bill to a company that just announced a quarterly record revenue of $28.57 billion and a record net profit of $7.31 billion, making it just $50 billion away from being the world’s most valuable company.

Google was also contacted regarding location data stored on mobile phones that run its Android operating system. The search juggernaut, though, was not fined. The KCC just demanded that it — and Apple — ensure that user location information on their mobile phones be saved in an encrypted form.

A number of large multinational corporations have been facing regulatory problems in South Korea as of late. In April, two South Korean search engines filed antitrust complaints against Google. And last December, the KCC also pulled up arguments against Facebook, saying that the social network did not comply with the country’s privacy laws.

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