MacOS 13.5: Location privacy broken
The latest Ventura update not only plugs security holes: Apple has also included a gross bug in the system settings.
Users of the latest macOS update complain about a security-related problem in connection with the privacy settings. Since the installation of macOS 13.5, which was released on Monday evening, the Privacy & Security section of the operating system’s System Preferences lacks almost all options to control apps’ access to location services. This feature, also called Location Privacy, is used to determine whether and how an app can read the current location where the computer is located. This is regulated system-wide by Apple – just like on the iPhone and iPad.
The apps are simply gone
After installing macOS 13.5, however, the function is disrupted. The only setting option that is still available concerns the location access of system services. Apps that had previously been granted location access (or not) simply no longer show up in the view, the list is completely empty. The problem could be reproduced on several Macs in the Mac & i editorial office, even a restart of the affected machines did not help.
With macOS 13.5, Apple had plugged numerous security holes – including some that had already been exploited by attackers. It is possible that the bug was triggered in the system settings when these bugs were fixed. According to Apple’s macOS 13.5 security-related content insert, bugs have been fixed in areas related to location data, including the “Where Is?” framework (reading sensitive location data by apps) and AppleMobileFileIntegrity (determining current user location). The time zone API, which can read location data, has also been changed.
No workaround available yet
So far, there is no workaround for the problem. Users who fear they no longer have control over location data access from apps can turn off the entire location data function (Location Services) on their own. Attempts to reset the location privacy database, as described in the Macrumors forum, among others, do not seem to lead to the goal. The bug has already been submitted to Apple.
According to experience so far, location services in macOS 13.5 seem to continue to work for apps that already had access before – so the bug does not turn this off. If apps use Apple’s standard access query dialog, they should also still be able to be activated. However, if an app relies on the system settings, this naturally fails due to the missing display. This includes Google’s Chrome browser, among others.
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