Apple responds to Chinese media warning against iPhone location tracking

By , Jul 13, 2014

Frequent Locations settings

Last week, China’s state-run China Central Television broadcasted a report that labeled the iPhone as a “national security concern.” More specifically, the CCTV criticized the “frequent locations” function in iOS 7, which records time and location for the owner’s movements.

Yesterday, Apple issued an official response to the report on its Chinese website. The statement reaffirms the company’s commitment to privacy, and states that the Location Services found in the iOS firmware are only used to help users for activities that require navigation…

Here’s an excerpt from that statement, which you can read in full here:

Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers. Privacy is built into our products and services from the earliest stages of design. We work tirelessly to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world. Unlike many companies, our business does not depend on collecting large amounts of personal data about our customers. We are strongly committed to giving our customers clear and transparent notice, choice and control over their information, and we believe our products do this in a simple and elegant way.

We appreciate CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important. 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.

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.

The statement wraps up by saying Apple “has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about.”

CCTV is a very influential media outlet in China, and this isn’t the first time it’s forced Apple to respond to a report. Last year, it accused the company of discriminating against Chinese consumers via its warranty policy, which led Tim Cook to post an open letter of apology.

China has become an extremely important market for Apple, and is seen as a major factor in future handset growth. Right now, the iPhone only accounts for 6% of the country’s smartphone market, which is dominated by devices made by Samsung, Lenovo, Xiaomi and others.

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  • Disasterpiece

    If they think Apple is bad for doing this, I woukd shutter to think what they feel about Google/Android. But from what I understand most Android devices in China run a modified version of Android.

    • Zzyzxd

      So you don’t know that China has already blocked almost all Google services?

  • Kenneth Lin

    Why is Apple sucking up to these blatant lying government mouthpieces?

    • http://www.liam-merlyn.co.uk/ ConduciveMammal

      They aren’t. They’re ensuring the Chinese customers don’t get the wrong idea about their products which could lose them billions in revenue.

      • Kenneth Lin

        “We appreciate CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important.”
        If that is not sucking up then I don’t know what is.

      • http://www.liam-merlyn.co.uk/ ConduciveMammal

        No, they’re being decent and polite. If you can’t comprehend that, then I can’t imagine you’re particularly well known for your manners

      • Kenneth Lin

        Sucking up usually entails lots of politeness in words, don’t you think? Apple is clearly trying very hard not to offend the Chinese government even in the slightest.

        And with regards with my manners, unlike you, I am not going to resort to personal attacks on a simple tech news article.

      • jy zhou

        Apple knows the cost for the uncompromising attitude, and they don’t want to be the second Google being blocked out of china

      • Kenneth Lin

        Yup, unfortunately that’s life(and business) in China.

      • Paymon John Vafa

        Loll

      • John

        I’m not sure if you’re blind or just anti-Chinese Government but after reading the entire conversation between you and @conducivemammal:disqus I have to wonder whether you’re annoyed by the fact that they have thanked the Chinese Government for doing their job.

        There is no sucking up here, they are including a statement that ANY decent media company would do and thank people for bringing this to people’s attention.

      • Kenneth Lin

        Firstly, the state media brought this issue up, not the people. And this isn’t even the first time they have harassed a foreign company trying to do business there.

        Yes, I don’t respect the Chinese government or their state media, but only because they keep doing things like this. Why would a company sincerely thank the Chinese government for “doing their job” when this entails harassment and bad press over an issue that wasn’t an issue at all in the first place! Ask all the other commenters here which company first comes to mind with regards about invasion of privacy.

        Compared to how Apple responded to other criticisms previously about their App Store policy, the difference is clear if you were even following.

      • Paymon John Vafa

        Can we find a way to bring up Israel and Palestine I’m this unnecessary fight?

  • leart

    Ios is the most sicure phone os right now, i dont get the point of chineses, if ios is not safe about privacy how about android? or the point is just to badmouth apple..

  • Franklin Richards

    This coming from one of the corrupted countries in the world. They are just concerned they have no control over the tracking of their citizens. They’re so good a tracking in fact that if you so much as bad mouth the government online you may get a knock on your door.

    • Manuel Molina

      They can’t control their people, clearly, as there’s 1 billion of them. Where were they when that happen?

      • Franklin Richards

        I said they are good at tracking I never said they are good at controlling.

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      “This coming from one of the corrupted countries in the world”

      It’s word from one corrupted country (China) to another (US).

      “They are just concerned they have no control over the tracking of their citizens.”

      *They’d rather track their citizens than have the NSA do it.

      • Franklin Richards

        LOL the ignorance of your comment made my day.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        What’s ignorant about it? You want to tell me there’s no corruption in your US that keeps power-tripping? That’ll be ignoramus of you…laugh out till your head explodes…

      • Franklin Richards

        Second time you’ve called me an ignoramus now you moron. The fact that you believe that US corruption is at any level a comparison to China is laughable. All countries have corruption not just the US. It about the severity of it. Seriously at least judges in the US have a genuine degree.

        In China you don’t even need proof of education to become a judge or any political/governmental personnel. Free speech is non-existent there, the best international example would be Ai Weiwei a famous artist who has always been against China’s government so much so he left the country. As soon as he stepped back into the country the government locked him away for weeks with no explanation at all even after he was released there was no apology or anything.

        If you seriously think US corruption is by any measure as serious as the problems in China you are more ignorant than I thought. At the very least US citizen still has a voice but the Chinese citizens are forced to remain mute.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        You keep implying ignoramus stuff, I call you what you are, numbskull.

        “Seriously at least judges in the US have a genuine degree.”

        All subjective there, you probably are a US citizen…nice of you to show love for country. There have been recent examples from Judge Lucy Koh being an unfair judge (http://bit ly/1kq0gAe) in the Samsung vs Apple trial case.

        “In China you don’t even need proof of education to become a judge or any political/governmental personnel.”

        You’d be right if we were still in the 80s, yet another ignoramus move. That began changing in the 1990 and as of 2001, you require a law degree to become a judge (http://bit ly/1kq2902).

        “the best international example would be Ai Weiwei a famous artist who has always been against China’s government so much so he left the country. As soon as he stepped back into the country the government locked him away for weeks with no explanation at all even after he was released there was no apology or anything.”

        The US has it’s fare share of corrupt events. There’s the ongoing example of the US being drunk on power (thinking it has the right to know what everyone else is doing at home), there’s that of money being more valuable than morals in the case of Kim Dotcom (http://bit ly/Ua3LUz), and there are many other past events that have occurred under George W. Bush.

        You keep making baseless and ignoramus claims, yet you don’t want to be called such stuff…how ironic can you get…

        “At the very least US citizen still has a voice but the Chinese citizens are forced to remain mute.”

        Right, US citizens, the same ones that blindly gave up their rights via the PATRIOT Act. They do still have a voice for other stuff…

      • Franklin Richards

        fml. You really think that is a big deal in comparison don’t you. Keep thinking that you ignorant fool. Freedom comes at a cost. Freedom doesn’t exist at all in some places.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right, keep thinking to your asinine c*ck sucker self that it’s no big deal until it becomes too big to control…as-if that’s not already happening in the case of the NSA.

        I clearly stated that it’s word from one corrupted country (China) to another (US). Then you came ignoramusly crying as-if the corruption in the US isn’t serious. Regardless which is the bigger deal, they’re both serious.

  • shar

    my comment disappeared!!! did you actually remove my comment?
    has idownloadblog started removing legitimate comments if they don’t like it?
    that’s new.

    • Manuel Molina

      Don’t feel bad, they didn’t approve one of my comments. I’m not sure why I was under approval anyways. But shit happens.

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      You probably had a link in your comment. If so, I’d suggest you start using short links like this: http://bit ly/XXXX
      That way, all that the reader needs to do it copy it to their URL bar and insert a . between t and l.

      EDIT: Yup, your comment is now displayed; it was on hold due to the link.

  • JulianZH

    They just want money.

  • ExcitedMuch

    Chinese government is so selfish!! They’re trying to conquer islands near to other countries like Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, myanmar and many more!! Stop monopolizing china!!!

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    “Our customers want and expect their mobile devices to be able to quickly and reliably determine their current locations for specific activities”

    No I don’t!

  • Jack Wong

    This service is horrible, made my phone extremely hot while I charge it overnight, then I woke up, the phone still at 90% only and very hot…

    And I have most of these OS location services disabled.