Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - Page 15 News List

IPhones a threat to security: CCTV

BIG BROTHER:China’s state-run CCTV reported that the iPhone location tracking function could be used to collect data, which could result in a leak of state secrets


Apple Inc assured Chinese customers that location tracking on its iPhone can not be used to identify the activity of individuals, a day after China’s state-owned television broadcaster said the software poses a security risk.

The iPhone function can collect data and may result in a leak of state secrets, China Centrl Television (CCTV) reported on Friday, citing Ma Ding (馬丁), head of the online security institute at the People’s Public Security University of China.

In response, Apple said on its Chinese Web site that it has never “worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.”

The tracking function is used to speed up applications designed to show iPhone users their location, or assist in driving directions to avoid traffic. It can be turned off, Apple said in a statement. Personal location information is stored only on the phone, protected by a user password, and isn’t available to third parties, the company said.

“We appreciate CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important,” the company said in the statement, according to an English translation provided by Apple.

“We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don’t do when it comes to privacy and your personal data,” the statement said.

Apple, Microsoft Corp, Google Inc and Facebook Inc are among the US companies that have been criticized by state-run media amid an escalating spat over cyberspying and hacking allegations.

The tensions follow indictments by US prosecutors of five Chinese military officers for allegedly hacking into the computers of US companies and last year’s revelations by US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of a National Security Agency spying program.

Last month, a commentary on the microblog of the People’s Daily newspaper said Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook cooperated in a secret US program to monitor China.

CCTV said a provincial government was told not to buy computers with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. It quoted a professor calling the software a potential threat to China’s information security.

The iPhone report by CCTV came after China told its three state-owned wireless carriers to cut marketing expenses because they overspent on subsidies and advertising for devices such as Apple handsets, people familiar with the matter said.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, posted March quarter sales of US$9.3 billion in the greater China area according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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