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.