Apple iPhone 'threat to national security': Chinese media

Jul 12, 2014
The iPhone's "frequent locations" function, which can be switched on or off by users, could be used to gather state secrets, said Ma Ding, director of the Institute for Security of the Internet at People's Public Security University in Beijing.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has accused US technology giant Apple of threatening national security through its iPhone's ability to track and time-stamp a user's location.

The "frequent locations" function, which can be switched on or off by users, could be used to gather "extremely sensitive data", and even state secrets, said Ma Ding, director of the Institute for Security of the Internet at People's Public Security University in Beijing.

The tool gathers information about the areas a user visits most often, partly to improve travel advice.

In an interview broadcast Friday, Ma gave the example of a journalist being tracked by the software as a demonstration of her fears over privacy.

"One can deduce places he visited, the sites where he conducted interviews, and you can even see the topics which he is working on: political and economic," she said.

The frequent locations function is available on iOS 7, the operating system used by the current generation of iPhones released in September 2013.

"CCTV has only just discovered this?" said one incredulous Chinese microblogger.

The dispute is not the first time Apple has been embroiled in controversy in China, where its products are growing in popularity in a marketplace dominated by smartphones running Google's Android operating system.

Apple lost a lawsuit against a Chinese state regulator over patent rights to voice recognition software such as the iPhone's "Siri" just this week.

In March 2013 the Californian company was notably the target of criticism orchestrated by the Chinese media on behalf of consumers, who were critical of poor after-sales service.

And in 2012 the US firm paid $60 million to settle a dispute with another Chinese firm over the iPad trademark.

The privacy scare also reflects mutual distrust between the US and China after a series of allegations from both sides on the extent of cyber-espionage.

Leaks by former US government contractor Edward Snowden have alleged widespread US snooping on China, and this month it was reported Chinese hackers had penetrated computer networks containing personal information on US federal employees.

Apple did not immediately respond when contacted by AFP for comment.

Explore further: Chinese court rules against Apple in patent case (Update)

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Kieseyhow
5 / 5 (2) Jul 12, 2014
The government is only complaining about features they would love to have for themselves, as any large paranoid government would. The people are always a threat to government. Remember the children's game of "King of the Hill", once attaining the top, most challenging is preventing others from getting there; simple as that. Not everyone can be king. Children who played this game inevitably scaled up their efforts to causing physical pain to those who tried to reach the top, because it works and is simplest for the to figure out for the average intellectual capacity to figure out. Classic understanding is that people who desire power, are least responsible once they achieve it, if all they desire is having the power. The children's game usually ends with someone hurt, or if the other players walk off in disgust. Most responsibly capable people are often those who did not seek out power. Therein lies the conundrum.

These tracking features should have a physical "off" switch.
alfie_null
not rated yet Jul 13, 2014
A conundrum for people of live in China: would you use the phone the government says you should use or the one the government says you shouldn't?
Porgie
not rated yet Jul 13, 2014
Like the Obama administration truth is a threat to their security. Not an iPhone or a news organization.