Apple is ramping up security and privacy efforts on all fronts right now, although most attention is currently directed towards the ongoing Apple FBI iPhone backdoor case. Reddit user MaGNeTiX has found that Apple is taking a big step in iOS 9.3 (currently on beta 5) towards transparency when an iOS device is being managed by an institution or enterprise through MDM. If your iPhone is being tracked by the company, it is now clearly marked in the About page of Settings and the Lock Screen. It’s hard to get more clear than a permanent ‘This iPhone is managed by your organisation’ message at the bottom of the screen.
Apple lets companies track and manage iPhones through an MDM deployment program. iOS 9.3 will remove any ambiguity as to whether the company is tracking the device …
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Although its not a secret that most company-administered iPhones are locked down in some way, current iOS versions do not prominently indicate if this kind of control is taking place on a device. With iOS 9.3, Apple is giving the user ultimate transparency in how their device is being exposed to their employer. The About screen page notes that the iPhone is supervised and states in what ways the iPhone is not wholly secure.
This iPhone is supervised. [Company Name] can monitor your Internet traffic and locate this device.
This change will also help privacy-conscious iPhone users who switch between work and personal phones. It will be easier for people to juggle between devices without getting confused which is which and there will be a conscious understanding that this device is being supervised and the other isn’t.
It’s just one more step in Apple’s push to make privacy and personal security a known issue. Whilst this change doesn’t help improve user privacy, devices are still trackable in the same way by companies if under MDM, it does improve transparency about what is going on. It may also encourage people to buy personal iPhones, if they are alerted to the control their employer can exert over their work phones. iOS 9.3 is expected to be released to the public later in March, following Apple’s iPhone 5E/iPad Pro event on the 21st.