Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that the social network’s geolocation tool is nearing release, meaning Facebook will soon be able to track where its users are. But Apple already knows exactly where all of its iPhone users are in real-time, and it’s sharing this data with its “partners and licensees” for all users who agree to its just revised privacy policy.

This sounds reasonable, except that all iPhone users who want to download applications or media via the iTunes Store are forced to agree to the policy. Otherwise they are blocked from downloading anything, so it really isn’t an option.

Apple assures its users that all of this data — especially the data it is sharing — is completely anonymous. But if enough information is provided, it might not be that difficult to pinpoint who people are based on where they go.

Privacy is the buzzword in Silicon Valley these days, spotlit by Facebook’s policy gaffe that was quickly rolled back due to public outcry. So the fact that Apple is insisting on owning and sharing precise location data will no doubt give analysts and customers alike some pause.

That said, there doesn’t really seem to be a way around it. Apple iPhone users want their phones to know where they are most of the time — it improves application performance. Just look at the popularity of Foursquare, or the geotagging features built into Twitter’s mobile application, and Yelp’s. It’s only a disconcerting concept when it’s stated so plainly — and because the names of the partners and licensees with access to the data remain undisclosed.

The only application specifically mentioned in the privacy policy is MobileMe’s “Find My iPhone” tool, which allows users to locate their phones remotely if they have been lost or stolen. This is somewhat of a no-brainer, with no major marketing tie-in.

But the audience for this information is also poised to explode, with Apple’s iAd platform launching today. A lot of the advertisers looking to run iAds plan to bake in location, allowing users to access all kinds of new information about their brands, like where the nearest branches of a chain are, or whether there is a sale ongoing at a nearby location.

Here’s the exact language from Apple’s new privacy policy:

To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.

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