Korea’s top communications regulator will request that Apple Inc. address the privacy concerns caused by recent allegations that the company has been accumulating location information of its users.
Officials of the Korea Communications Commission said it will be communicating with Apple Korea on the matter. The local office declined to comment, but industry sources said Apple Korea has indicated it would be relaying the request to its U.S. headquarters.
The domestic regulator said that so far there seems to be no visible violation of local laws on the protection of personal information on the part of Apple.
Problems may arise, however, if Apple was sending and storing information at its server without an encryption process since such oversight could prompt hacking should the devices fall into the wrong hands, and lead to violations of personal information, officials added.
Last week, Apple and Google were slammed by media reports that it keeps records of the whereabouts of the owner of their smartphones.
The Wall Street Journal reported that these phones—regularly transmit their locations back to the respective companies.
Google on Sunday said all information related to location information of users is encrypted and cannot be tracked.
The company also said their users are informed of the choice they have as to whether Google may collect their location information.
Location points and times are often considered as some of the most valuable information a mobile phone can provide because they can tell advertisers where someone has been and where they might be going -- and what they might want to buy at that locale.
According to research firm Gartner Inc., location-based services are expected to rise to be worth $8.3 billion by 2014.
Researchers, however, have emphasized that there’s no evidence that Apple has access to such detailed data.
Industry sources here said parts of the reports on Apple and Google seem to be based on fabrication or were stretching the truth.
“The information collected on smart devices are very vague and does not allow much room for crimes,” one source said, declining to be identified.
Last year, Apple had explained to U.S. congressmen that the purpose of the location information is to maintain a comprehensive location database.
Experts, however, had at the time asked why the information was not deleted after the main servers received them.
Google and Apple are now reminding users that location services switches can be flipped off to avoid being tracked. The services, however, are turned on as a default, meaning users -- many of them unaware that such services even exist -- must physically turn them off.