China says that the iPhone is a national security threat

Apple-China

The iPhone brings untold billions of dollars of industry into China thanks to the manufacturing jobs it creates, but that hasn’t stopped the Chinese Government — through their state-controlled media mouthpieces — from calling the device a “national security concern.”

Why? Because iOS can track your location, which according to a China Central Television report, could be used to betray Chinese state secrets to the rest of the world.

What has the CCTV worked up is iOS’s “Frequent Locations” feature, which tracks the geographic coordinates of where a user travels most. According to Chinese researchers speaking to the CCTV, this tracking could be a danger to the Chinese government, by leaking sensitive information and state secrets to Apple.

It’s absurd. As Apple explains in a support article about Frequent Locations, the data gathered by the feature “is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent. It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.”

But what makes China’s issues with Frequent Locations even sillier is that, as we’ve shown in the past, turning off Frequent Locations is as easy as making a single tap in iOS settings.

In other words, all this fuss is about a harmless feature anyone can turn off for themselves. You’d think even China’s spies could figure that out.

  • Grunt_at_the_Point

    That’s odd I’d think the Chinese government would love the iPhone. The government would be able to track everyone having an iPhone. Could someone put the Chinese government in contact with the NSA.

  • Matt Wiseman

    eh.. a tracking feature can be “turned off”, but generally that just stops updating apps. It can still report back.

    • perpetuallearner

      eh… no.

  • acslater017

    In truth, this is about slowing the influence of foreign companies on the Chinese culture and economy. In ther eyes, China has a long history of being exploited by the west (France, Russia, Portugal, UK) as well as Japan. The government would rather promote the use of home grown alternatives.

  • xared

    Even though we now know about the NSA and that Apple has succumbed to it, we should wholeheartedly trust Apple to not send location data from iOS to servers without user consent.

    Yeah, right.

  • Hildebrand

    iPhone says China is an international security threat

  • EKIMMMMM

    i dont understand why its specific to the iPhone. apps request your location as well, and (while i don’t own one) i’d assume it’s no different on an Android phone.

    oh and weren’t the huawei phones thought to have some sort of direct line back to china/huawei?

    • Kr00

      Correct. Government departments are not allowed to use Huawei products as they have been found to phone home. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. We need to be reminded that dessenters in China go missing, never to be seen again. Give me a useless capitalist government over a corrupt communist one, any day.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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