Apple devices banned from Chinese government due to security fears

Apple-China

It may dominate 80 percent of China’s high-end smartphone market, but one place Apple’s not racking up supporters or sales is in the Chinese government.

In fact, according to a new list drawn up by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Finance, Apple products are persona non grata when it comes to high tech devices that public money is allowed to be spent on.

The reason is security concerns, in the wake of increased fears about hacking and cyberspying. “When the government stops the procurement of products, it sends a signal to corporates and semi-government bodies,” says Mark Po, an analyst with UOB Kay Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong. “The Chinese government wants to make sure that overseas companies shouldn’t have too much influence in China.”

While certainly unwelcome, the move doesn’t come as a total surprise. Back in May, Microsoft was “surprised” to find out that its Windows 8 O.S. was also excluded from government purchases for similar reasons, with computers and other documents subsequently seized in an anti-monopoly investigation in July.

Last month, the state-run China Central Television claimed that features of the iPhone software could lead to the leaking of state secrets, which Apple strongly denied.

This isn’t the first time that Apple has run into problems regarding perceived security concerns, despite repeatedly making its position on the NSA very clear.

Late last month, Russia’s Communication Minister, Nikolai Nikiforov, proposed that both Apple should provide access to its software source code so that the Russian government could check that it wasn’t extracting state secrets.

In other countries like Germany and the U.K., certain iOS devices have been banned from parliament due to fears that they are not properly secured.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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