Apple’s Latest iOS 13.3.1 Beta Fixes UWB Privacy Issue

Apple’s latest seed of iOS 13.3.1 is now with developers, and while they’re now testing it against all of their apps, it seems there’s a fix in there for a recent privacy issue relating to the new ultra wideband (UWB) chips in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.

It was discovered that the new iPhones continue to track user location data even when location services are disabled. And at the time, Apple didn’t seem bothered.

“We do not see any actual security implications,” an Apple engineer wrote in a response to KrebsOnSecurity. “It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.”

However, Apple finally confirmed exactly what is going on, with the new UWB chips being the reason. And while location data was indeed being accessed, Apple said that never leaves the phone. It also said in December that a new toggle would be added to iOS, allowing users to turn the new feature off.

As of iOS 13.3.1’s latest beta, that switch is now here and it’s labeled as “Networking & Wireless.” When it’s disabled, Apple displays a dialog, warning users that things might no longer work properly.

Turning off location for Networking & Wireless may affect Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ultra Wideband performance.

Ultimately, it’s now up to users whether they disable this feature or not. We’d suggest that it probably isn’t the best idea if you want to make the best use out of your new iPhone. But to each, their own.

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