Apple Responds to Chinese State-Run Media Warning Against iOS Location Tracking

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Earlier this week, China's state-run media broadcast labeled the iPhone a "national security concern" over Apple's Location Services feature found in iOS 7, with the country's researchers stating that the data could lead to accessing highly-sensitive data in China.

Today, Apple officially responded to the controversy on its Chinese website. The statement, which was posted in both Chinese and English, starts off by reiterating the company's commitment to privacy and stating that its Location Services exist solely to help users for activities that require navigation:
Our customers want and expect their mobile devices to be able to quickly and reliably determine their current locations for specific activities such as shopping, travel, finding the nearest restaurant or calculating the amount of time it takes them to get to work. We do this at the device level. Apple does not track users' locations - Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.
Apple also states that it does not have access to the Frequent Locations data on any iPhone, noting that access to the information can be turned off and is only used to provide commuting information and automatic routing as requested by the user:
Frequent Locations are only stored on a customer's iOS device, they are not backed up on iTunes or iCloud, and are encrypted. Apple does not obtain or know a user's Frequent Locations and this feature can always be turned "Off" via our privacy settings.

Apple does not have access to Frequent Locations or the location cache on any user's iPhone at any time. We encrypt the cache by the user's passcode and it is protected from access by any app.
Apple concludes the statement by saying that it has "never worked with any government agency from any country" to create backdoor access in any of its products, and vows to never allow access to its servers. Last year, the company shared a sentiment in its "Commitment to Customer Privacy" letter which was issued after the discovery of the NSA's secret intelligence program, PRISM.

China has become an increasingly important market for Apple, as the company has made moves over the past few years to improve its presence in the country. Last year, the company partnered with the region's biggest carrier China Mobile and opened more retail stores throughout populated areas. CEO Tim Cook has also made a number of visits to China, meeting with Beijing's mayor and the Chinese Vice Premier to discuss market growth.

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Article Link: Apple Responds to Chinese State-Run Media Warning Against iOS Location Tracking
 

brendu

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2009
2,407
2,249
USA
There are definately valid security concerns in our world right now. This however is not one of them. Anything with a setting allowing you to turn it off, and which the system specifically asks you whether you want to use when you first set it up is not a concern.
 

bushido

Suspended
Mar 26, 2008
8,070
2,746
Germany
and next thing you know North Korea is complaining about the lack of "freedom of choice" in apple products :p
 

Mac32

Suspended
Nov 20, 2010
1,259
440
Very good answer by Apple, and shows yet again Apple's superiority over Prismsoft...eh...Microsoft.
 

alexgowers

macrumors 65816
Jun 3, 2012
1,326
881
sorry but google through android is tracking everything you do including location, to sell you crap!

Apple has always done the opposite and even has a business model to back that stance up.

I suspect the media have gotten confused as to where there arse and elbow are located at?
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,566
14,057
Central U.S.
Probably what the Chinese are unhappy about is that they've found no way to use their citizen's iPhones to track them as they travel around China.

As a side note, this is what happens when the NSA goes around collecting information unchecked. They really make other countries nervous about buying American goods and services. Or they at least give these other countries a fairly valid point of concern to sway their population to buy locally. I see this being a significant problem over the coming decade. A "Silicon Valley" could blossom just as easily in another part of the world. We're not as special as we think we are—especially considering how far behind we are in education.
 

PocketSand11

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2014
672
1
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Very good answer by Apple, and shows yet again Apple's superiority over Prismsoft...eh...Microsoft.
What does Microsoft track? Apple's in a way better position to track people (if they wish). I guess MS could get people who use Bing and Windows Phone, but those are only their own employees, who they probably already have information on.

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sorry but google through android is tracking everything you do including location, to sell you crap!

Apple has always done the opposite and even has a business model to back that stance up.

I suspect the media have gotten confused as to where there arse and elbow are located at?
Apple has an advertising platform too. I suspect Google more because of Google+ and their other annoying stuff, but they're more annoying than scary. Who cares if somebody knows what stuff I like? Even if I didn't use AdBlock, I'd at least get more relevant ads.
 
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fermat-au

macrumors 6502
Dec 7, 2009
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477
Australia
What ever Apple may think of Chinese government policy, if Apple wants to sell iPhones in China they must do so in accordance with Chinese law.

If Apple find disagree with Chinese law they are free to pull out of China. At one stage Google pulled out of China for this type of reason.

You could replace China with any other nation and replace Apple with in corporation and this would still be true.
 

iZac

macrumors 68020
Apr 28, 2003
2,009
1,065
Shanghai
It's an open secret that Microsofts version of Skype for the Chinese market (tom Skype) has a back door and word filter so that if you type anything like "xinjiang" or "bomb" or thousands of other potentially sensitive words, it sends your whole conversation back to the Chinese Government for review. Don't see anyone in China's state run media complaining about that :p

What ever Apple may think of Chinese government policy, if Apple wants to sell iPhones in China they must do so in accordance with Chinese law.

If Apple find disagree with Chinese law they are free to pull out of China. At one stage Google pulled out of China for this type of reason.

You could replace China with any other nation and replace Apple with in corporation and this would still be true.
I guess this trouble is, Chinese law is flexible to how much influence your company has with the government. Recently Apple has been targeted by the state media with lots of tabloid style smear pieces for reasons unknown. It probably has a lot to do with China-US relations and would probably stop the minute the US started taking China's side in things like territorial disputes with it's neighbours. Having said that, the Chinese government said recently that iOS and Android is too dominant in the Chinese marketplace and they're developing their own state controlled OS for mobiles. Then you could guarantee they'd track everything :p
 
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827538

macrumors 65816
Jul 3, 2013
1,236
1,075
While I don't believe Apple is actively conspiring with the NSA/GCHQ/MI5/6 or any of the other Five Eyes intelligence alliance members it definitely raises some very serious questions when an autocratic government that openly spies and monitors it's citizens which have no free speech then can call out a government agency in the free world about spying illegally on users and have some weight behind it's argument is pretty worrying.
The US and UK are heading at break neck speed towards a very scary Orwellian future and I'm usually the sort of guy that finds conspiracies like that silly. But after the NSA/GCHQ revelations and the total lack of action over it, as well as spying on world leaders (Merkel) and the anti-'terrorism' laws that were very recently rushed through parliament here I have to assume the worst and expect that my civil rights to be totally disregarded.
I usually consider UK justice to be ridiculously pathetic, but every few months I see people going to prison for an offence tweet or Facebook messages - stuff that while distasteful should by no means land you in prison - it's not in the near future, government control over our digital life's in a way I find immoral and illegal is already prolific. It needs to stop.
When governments are scared of their people there is liberty, where people are scared of their governments there is tyranny and all that. All the stuff the founding fathers said over the pond like oppressive tyrinacal governments, banks representing a bigger threat than armies etc is all happening today.

Anything to defend ourselves against them commies, or is it Muslims? Or terrorists? What's the media/governments flavour of the month?

America, c'mon please wake up. A two party system that's completely at the servitude of lobbyists is no fit way to run a democratic country.

As a Brit I am between a rock and a hard place, my government hasn't represented the people in a long time, the EU is becoming more autocratic by the day, the US is going down the toilet, Russia is kicking up a mess in the east of Europe and who do I get to realistically vote for? A complete freak of a champagne socialist and coward or a conservative who is only interested in selling off every national asset to his mates at rock bottom prices...

Christ at least in China I would be under no false pretences.
 

albusseverus

macrumors 6502a
Nov 28, 2007
728
132
One lie negates the validity of the whole statement.

Apple WAS caught gathering all iPhone tracking data "to improve maps"! And unfortunately, this data was saved unencrypted on your phone and in backups, if you didn't put a password on your backup, leaving customers' data vulnerable.

Apple had to make a public apology and provide the means to prevent sending tracking data to Apple.

I agree that they probably don't on-sell this data like other companies, but can they really resist law enforcement and security authorities' requests for customers' data? Not without going to jail themselves.

As for co-operating with authorities, I recall an NSA hack that existed allegedly without Apple's co-operation. Agents are recruited out of university and would be placed anywhere important, including corporations like Apple. Apple wouldn't need to co-operate, only certain employees.

PR windowdressing. If the premise is a lie, the rest of the statement has to be viewed through that prism (excuse the pun).

Silicon Valley (including Apple) sold out customers data for immunity from prosecution years ago. All this humble breast beating is only a result of Silicon Valley realising how damaging that sell-out will be with their customers, worldwide. You'd know this if you listened to the No Agenda show, instead of participating in the distraction of… the latest phone…

China calling the kettle black is bad enough. Apple outright lying in response, is even lower.
 

OtherJesus

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2005
375
129
Bay Area, California
Well these are two features that Google and Samsung will NEVER copy.

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One lie negates the validity of the whole statement.

Apple WAS caught gathering all iPhone tracking data "to improve maps"! And unfortunately, this data was saved unencrypted on your phone and in backups, if you didn't put a password on your backup, leaving customers' data vulnerable.

Apple had to make a public apology and provide the means to prevent sending tracking data to Apple.

I agree that they probably don't on-sell this data like other companies, but enough. Apple outright lying in response, is even lower.
Let's have a source, shall we?
I think you're forming a conspiracy theory by twisting the facts. So, please, prove me wrong with a credible source link. Thanks.
 

philosopherdog

macrumors 6502a
Dec 29, 2008
570
355
The issue here is that Americans have let the government overreact to 9/11 and now it is biting everyone in tech. The tech industry is partly to blame. The industry needs to really challenge the direction the US has taken toward fascism and so do it's citizens. Do nothing at your collective peril. Countries need to know they can trust American tech. Otherwise they won't use it. This had all gone way too far with the NSA and the government response is not persuading anyone anything has changed. Look at the US spying against Germany. The US just doesn't get it. Stupidity prevails. So sad.
 

furi0usbee

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2008
1,785
1,248
When China stops blocking social networking apps, let's its citizens search the "full web," and oh yeah, offers FREEDOM, then I'll listen to their concerns. They are only mad Apple doesn't have a way for them to intercept that location information. If they could get that info, they'd keep quiet.
 

furi0usbee

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2008
1,785
1,248
Countries need to know they can trust American tech. Otherwise they won't use it. This had all gone way too far with the NSA and the government response is not persuading anyone anything has changed. Look at the US spying against Germany. The US just doesn't get it. Stupidity prevails. So sad.
Every tech company should sign a pact NOT to ever divulge ANY information without a court order to any federal authority. Let the NSA threaten them, etc. What, they going to put them all out of business? Just go public. Look how that worked so far. If the NSA threatens you, go public. If any fed agency threatens you, go public.

Now, I have to jump through all kinds of hoops just for the appearance of security, when these companies probably give up my info anyway. Whole disk encryption, TOR, 2-factor authentication, etc. I mean having to work so your data stays secure is becoming a job. And if companies are going to hand stuff over anyway, we are almost in China.