Actually when you setup your iPhone (including these betas) it does ask you if you want to have the feature enabled. It certainly wasn't on by default for me, I agreed to it. Granted it doesn't go into incredibly great detail of exactly what it was tracking but it does give you the gist.
If the NSA wants to track you, there's far simpler ways than asking Apple to build a new product feature than can be disabled.
It's not about when the NSA wants to explicitly track you. It's about things like their "3 step" policy, where they search this bulk data for anyone within 3 degrees of separation of an alleged "person of interest".
What happens if they start working in your location data to (attempt to) infer degrees of separation? And now you're getting searched/visited/explicitly tracked/placed on the 'more-thorough screening' list at the TSA, because you happened to take some MMA classes at the 'wrong' gym in Boston and your web history had some keyword hits.
If I picking a flaw with the line I might have gone for 'When' but you make a pretty fine point there.
However, I'm fairly certain they can already do that by tracking cellphone activity in terms of ping back to the network and asking the telcos to turn it over. This would just give them it in a more targeted capacity.
>If the NSA wants to track you, there's far simpler ways than asking Apple to build a new product feature than can be disabled.
I don't know...letting a plethora of private entities collect and aggregate user data for easy access with (or without in many cases) a court order seems almost like the epitome of simplicity. Most of the hard work (both resource-wise and legal) has been done for you or is easy to do. Just cause one could design a simpler system of acquiring user data doesn't mean that features like this aren't profoundly simple and useful to them.
I take your point though, that the NSA doesn't need to direct a company to code features that collect data...because so many companies already do. It's a waste of their breath. They just need to concentrate on grabbing what has already been grabbed. We've been the product for a long time now, and we're either being sold to the government, or the government is taking what they want under (il)legal cover.
Which is why there's an off switch for the feature. Of course we don't know if the offswitch is an offswitch or a 'hide this from the user' switch but then we have to start mistrusting all the technology around us.