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Apple Fined by South Korea Over Tracking Feature

Fine is for collecting location data despite the withdrawal of consent by some users.

South Korea's telecoms regulator said on August 3 it would fine the Korean unit of Apple over an iPhone feature that can track the location of users.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said Apple Korea would be fined up to three million won (US$2,829). It also criticized but did not punish search giant Google for its role in collecting the data.

"KCC decided to fine Apple Korea three million won for collecting location data despite the withdrawal of consent by some users," it said. The move followed the commission's probe, which was launched in April to check if the collection of location data from iPhone users violated privacy rules.

Apple in May released updated software for iPhones to fix "bugs" that resulted in location data being unencrypted and stored for up to a year. South Korea has about three million iPhone users.

The commission said the Korean units of Apple and Google would be ordered to rectify the saving of the locations of handset users without data encryption, and to help customers better understand their mobile location tracking systems.

"Apple and Google caused worries among users...for having not provided enough information on how location data was collected and used," the KCC statement added.

South Korean police launched in May an investigation on Google's Seoul office on whether the global search company used its mobile phone advertising platform to illegally collect private location data.

Apple Korea spokesman Steve Park said his company did not collect the location data of iPhone users.

"Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plan to ever do so," he said, declining to say whether the company would agree to pay the fine.

A Google Korea spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswires: "We are currently reviewing the KCC's decision and we have been co-operating closely with the KCC to answer their questions."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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