UPDATE 1-Apple iPhone a danger to China national security -state media

Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:11am EDT

(Adds Apple statement)

BEIJING, July 11 (Reuters) - Chinese state media branded Apple Inc's iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone's ability to track and time-stamp user locations.

A report by broadcaster CCTV on Friday criticised the iPhone's "Frequent Locations" function for allowing users to be tracked and information about them revealed.

"This is extremely sensitive data," said a researcher interviewed by the broadcaster. If the data were accessed, it could reveal an entire country's economic situation and "even state secrets," the researcher said.

Apple said in a statement sent to Reuters on Saturday that it was committed to protecting the privacy of its users, and that no unique information related to the user or the device was transmitted when using the location functions.

"We appreciate CCTV's effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important. We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don't do when it comes to privacy and your personal data," it said.

"Apple does not track users' locations - Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," it added.

Apple has frequently come under fire from Chinese state media, which accused the company of providing user data to U.S. intelligence agencies and have called for 'severe punishment'. It has also been criticised for poor customer service.

Apple, however, said it had "never worked with any government agency from any country" to create a back door in any of its products or services. "We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will," the U.S. firm added.

The California-based company is not the only U.S. firm to suffer from Chinese media ire.

Google Inc services have been disrupted in China for over a month, while the central government procurement office has banned new government computers from using Microsoft Corp's Windows 8 operating system.

Other U.S. hardware firms such as Cisco Systems Inc and IBM Corp have experienced a backlash in China from what analysts and companies have termed the 'Snowden Effect', after U.S. spying revelations released last year by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Reporting by Paul Carsten in BEIJING and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Sophie Walker)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
ReadandShare wrote:
Are Apple, Microsoft, etc. really parties to US government-sponsored spying — willingly or perhaps unknowingly? To me, that’s almost beside the point. Same as how because of Chinese government-sponsored spying — Chinese companies like Huawei and Lenovo are also rebuffed when they try to venture into server business, etc. here in the US.

It’s not just a matter of protectionism.

Jul 12, 2014 3:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.