Jobs says Apple will testify on location issue

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says in an interview that the company plans to cooperate with lawmakers in discussing how it makes use of location information on phones, both in products and services.

Following the location question-and-answer document Apple published earlier today, CEO Steve Jobs has gone on the record about the company's plans to answer inquiries made by government officials, including the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"I think Apple will be testifying," Jobs said in an interview with All Things Digital. "They have asked us to come and we will honor their request of course."

Immediately following the discovery last week of the iOS database file containing time-stamped nearby cell tower, Wi-Fi, and GPS information, Apple was peppered with questions by prominent lawmakers over the company's intentions. Apple responded to the matter publicly for the first time in its Q&A document this morning, saying that the company was in no way tracking users, and that the location file was just a small part of a secured, crowd-sourced database Apple maintains to speed up location-finding on iOS devices.

In the interview, Jobs said such technology required education on the part of consumers, something that could be improved. "As new technology comes into the society, there is a period of adjustment and education," Jobs told All Things Digital. "We haven't--as an industry--done a very good job educating people, I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such, (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week."

Among those who have queried Apple on the purpose of the location database file are Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), as well as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Letters were also sent to Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Google, Research in Motion, and Hewlett-Packard by House lawmakers earlier this week, who wanted to know what kind of information is being collected, for what purposes, and if there is a way to disable the practice. Many of those questions have been answered by Apple, though several remain.

In the interview, Jobs declined to comment on the activities of what competitors were up to, saying only that "some of them don't do what we do."

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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