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Apple and Google to ban X-Mode Social from collecting user location info

Apple and Alphabet’s Google will ban the data broker X-Mode Social from collecting any location information drawn from mobile devices running their operating systems following revelations about the company’s national-security work, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The tech giants told developers that they must remove X-Mode’s tracking software from any app present in their app stores or risk losing access to any phones running Apple’s or Google’s mobile operating systems. The WSJ says that both Apple and Google disclosed their decision to ban X-Mode to investigators working for Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), who has been conducting an investigation into the sale of location data to government entities. An Apple representative confirmed that the company has given developers two weeks to remove X-Mode trackers.

Ironically, this is how X-Mode Social describes itself on its website: X-Mode is creating a new standard for accuracy and transparency in the location data industry. We are building the world’s largest, first-party and privacy-conscious location data panel. This new standard will improve the entire location data ecosystem and will allow companies to develop innovative tools built on a foundation of quality data.

In November, Motherboard reported that the U.S. military is buying the granular movement data of people around the world, harvested from “innocuous-seeming” apps. The article said that X-Mode was involved, selling data it had extracted to contractors and, by extension, the military.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.