iPhone Labeled A Security Threat by China

On Friday, an influential state broadcaster of China declared that a location-tracking function in the iPhone that’s offered by Apple Inc. is a major national security concern. This is just another backlash in China regarding US technology firms. China Central Television, which is run by the state, targeted the function of ‘frequent locations’ that’s offered in the iOS 7 mobile operating system of the iPhone, which is designed to record the location and time for the movements of the owner. Researchers were quoted in that report, stating that the function could be used for gaining knowledge of China’s economic situation along with its state secrets.

No comment was made by Apple Inc. The company has said that it provides the tracking function for helping the iPhone users. For instance, they can use it for outlining efficient travel routes. It is also possible for the users to disable this function in the settings of the device. This broadcast is another potential challenge for the iPhone maker in an intensely competitive market. 6% market share is held by the Cupertino, California based company in China’s smartphone market while a greater market share is commanded by models made by Samsung Electronics and running on the Android mobile operating system.

Still, the higher end of the market is dominated by Apple Inc. 80% of the smartphones in China that have a price more than $500 are iPhones. The users of the iPhone vary from executives to government officials in China. Last year, an iPhone was also seen in the hands of China’s first lady, although, of late she has been using a smartphone made by Chinese firm ZTE Corp. While the broadcasts made by the CCTV aren’t necessarily a view of the top Chinese leaders, they have a lot of influence in China.

After these criticizing reports, there are a lot of companies that have shifted products and shifted policies. It isn’t clear if any new limits or rules will be imposed by Apple, following the report. Nonetheless, the reports of the broadcaster have had an impact on the company in the past. Last year, a public apology had been made by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc. after the company had been accused of discriminating against Chinese people in its warranty policies. Since last year, US technology companies are feeling a chill in China after Edward Snowden, former US contractor said that Chinese leaders were being spied on by the National Security Agency and the data was provided to the government.

Apple Inc. has said that government agencies aren’t provided access to its servers. The Snowden disclosures were cited by the broadcast and implied that the databases of the US firms were ‘goldmines’. Officials were also quoted saying that stronger data protection laws were needed in China. They further said that if any data leaked and caused any harm, then the iPhone maker would have to deal with ‘legal responsibilities’. The cybersecurity debate between Washington and Beijing has also heated up after it was discovered that Chinese military offers were hacking into the US systems.