Apple store (Nanjing East, China, exterior 001)

CEO Tim Cook has agreed to allow Chinese government officials to conduct security audits on Apple devices sold in China, IDG News Service reported yesterday.

The surprising development comes amid tensions that have erupted in the 1.33 billion people country, Apple’s second largest market by revenue, over allegations that other governments are using Apple devices for surveillance and accusations of state-sponsored phishing attacks on Apple’s iCloud users.

Apple has agreed to allow China’s State Internet Information Office to run security audits on its hardware sold in the country in an effort to assuage surveillance fears.

These inspections should determine whether Apple’s hardware and software contains backdoors allowing government organizations to spy on users and access their private data stored on their Apple devices.

A story in the Beijing News claims [Google Translate] that Tim Cook made the offer during a meeting with China’s Cyberspace Administration minister Lu Wei in December.

Although Tim Cook vehemently denied backdoor claims and ensured the general public that his company has not, and never will, share private data with  government spooks, Wui insisted the Chinese government itself will make any such assessment.

iPhone 6 (China teaser 001)

“I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services,” reads Cook’s note on privacy available on Apple’s website. “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

However, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s lawyer recent said his client refuses to use an iPhone because it has “special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him.”

Source: IDG News Service