Apple has issued a statement which explains its commitment to customer privacy and how it handles government requests for data following the PRISM scandal. The Cupertino company has reiterated that it did not know about the PRISM program until June 6 when it was first contacted by the media, and that it does not provide government agencies with direct access to its servers.
Apple’s iOS devices have today been cleared for use on United States military networks by the Defense Department, Bloomberg reports. The move comes after Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 and the latest devices from BlackBerry gained government clearance earlier this month.
The Galaxy S4 has been cleared for government use by the U.S. Department of Defense, with Samsung’s new Knox security software deemed safe for military use. It’s the first Android-powered smartphone to ever win DoD approval, and it gets it ahead of Apple’s iPhone.
Apple’s App Store has been included in a list of websites and app stores that have been investigated for providing pornographic content in China. The list, published by state-owned newspaper People’s Daily, comes just a month after a government regulator named the App Store as a source of “obscene pornography,” despite Apple’s strict policy against pornographic apps.
Looks like iOS 6 users aren’t the only ones unhappy with Apple’s new Maps app. The Taiwanese government is also complaining about the service, which reveals its new $1.4 billion early warning radar station in satellite view. The Defense Ministry is now asking the Cupertino company to obscure the images.
It’s been over two years since Apple unveiled iOS 4 with mobile management features designed to make the iPhone and iPad a significantly better corporate citizen. During those years, the landscape of business and enterprise mobility has changed dramatically. RIM has collapsed and will never truly recover, Microsoft has doubled down on the interface it launched late in 2010 with no guarantee of success, and Android has become much more enterprise friendly. Perhaps more important is the fact that idea of mobile management and security has shifted from a focus on devices to a focus on securing data and managing mobile apps.
As all this has happened, Apple’s mobile management framework, which is the system that all mobile management vendors plug into in order to secure and manage iOS devices, has essentially stagnated. With iOS 6 on the horizon, lets look at the areas that Apple needs to address if it wants iOS to remain one of the preferred mobile platforms for business.
Like many federal agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs has embarked on the journey of integrating iPhones and iPads as mobile solutions. The agency currently has 20,000 mobile devices that includes iPhones and iPads along with some BlackBerries and a small number of Android devices. Despite the range of devices, the VA has been very active in trying to eliminate mobile data breaches and, according to the VA’s director of Mobile and Security Assurance Donald Kachman, the agency’s campaign has been extremely successful.
Kachman credits encryption technologies with as a major factor in that success – 99% of all VA data is now secured around the clock on mobile devices and desktop PCs. The security approach is one that can be a model for any organization.
In a somewhat ironic move, the U.S. government has entered into an ebook deal with Apple that will see a range of government reports, documents, and ebooks published in Apple’s iBookstore. The partnership, which was announced earlier this week, coincides with the Department of Justice’s latest legal filings in its anti-trust suit against Apple.
The deal with the Government Printing Office (GPO) will make a wide swath of documents and ebooks available through the iBookstore. While some government documents are available for free, a number of documents and full-length ebooks are not.
The U.S. federal government may not be where you’d expect to see mobile innovation or find good app development suggestions. While there’s still a public sector bureaucracy in government, a number of government agencies are beginning to develop new ways to connect with citizens and invest in mobile technologies for internal use.
Granted, most agencies are doing so because of requirements under the Obama administration’s 21st Century Digital Government Strategy. One of which is that every federal agency must make two high-value, customer-facing services available via mobile devices over the next year. Still, the innovation is happening and the agencies that have already taken up the challenge are good models for agencies that have yet to do so.
They’re also good sources of advice for any organization that is beginning to develop an iOS or mobile app strategy.