Jul 11, 2014

How could the iPhone threaten China’s national security?

China is claiming that the iPhone poses a threat to the country’s national security, and there is talk about banning iPhone sales completely. China is not Apple’s largest market, with sales of about 3 million iPhones per quarter, but that’s still a significant amount of revenue that the company stands to lose. What is it about the iPhone that is causing the Chinese government to claim it poses a unique security threat to the country?

Seems to me that some folks in the Chinese government are in full-blown drama queen mode and need to lighten up a bit.

Apple to China: iPhone not a national security threat

"A day after Chinese Central Television (CCTV), a Chinese state media organization, reported that a feature on iPhones could possibly reveal important state secrets, Apple issued a statement on its Chinese website assuaging concerns that it violates users' privacy.

"We work tirelessly to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world," the statement reads. "Unlike many companies, our business does not depend on collecting large amounts of personal data about our customers. We are strongly committed to giving our customers clear and transparent notice, choice and control over their information, and we believe our products do this in a simple and elegant way."

China and the US have been poking at each other for a while now over a variety of issues. The US has accused China of having government sponsored hackers that attack US government and commercial sites daily, and are responsible for theft of both commercial and military secrets. The US has renamed the street beside the Chinese Embassy after a jailed Chinese dissident. China has officially labeled Windows 8 as spyware and forbidden it’s use but government agencies (while still widely using Windows XP, ironically). Frankly, this is just another poke at the US in the ongoing tit-for-tat game that both countries are playing, and I suspect this “tat” is in response to the US placing restrictions on Chinese made servers because of the possibility of back doors. 


Of course, Apple has issued a statement saying that it does not track individual users and the iPhone does not pose a security risk. If anyone wanted to use smartphones for surveillance, I would think the Chinese telecoms would be in a better position than handset manufacturers anyway, whether that is Huawei, Samsung or Apple. But to claim that there is no possibility of a manufacturer tracking users is not credible to me. If location tracking data is stored, it can be accessed. Just ask the NSA.

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