China picks on Apple’s location tracking function in iOS/iPhones
China TV (CCTV) marks iPhone function as security threat on national level. This follows a definition of Windows 8 as an insecure operating system. While the government issued an prohibitive order to public services regarding Windows 8, the public warning against the location tracking funcion in iOS has more of a “loose lips sink ships”-character, directed at the public by the biggest Chinese TV channel, CCTV. Well, many may remember that logging location information about users without their knowledge has been in the press in 2011, but since then, the company has changed their ways, at least a tiny little bit, and there are visible controls in the preferences panel.
Whether this warning will stop anyone buying Apple devices is another question, as Apple recently has given up on ignoring the Chinese national LTE standard and integrated it into their mobile devices. Apple made the iPhone available through market leader China Mobile in 2013. On the other hand, other companies that were publicly criticized by this media outlet have changed some policies since (Volkswagen, Starbucks, Nikon, GlaxoSmithKline and Danone). As Apple has apologized to China openly before, maybe this attack might cause another policy to be changed.
The interesting bit, though, is the fact that China has set off to do the needful: Develop critical high-end-chips, software, operating systems and servers on their own, clawing back on the ownership of the value-chain their IT landscape. At least, all foreign backdoors may be avoided. Allegations, that the Chinese are rigging gear sold abroad, have been reported to Congress since at least 2009, incidentally the time, when (according to documents published before and since Edward Snowden) the US started to do this on a global scale.
For Europe, a similar strategy might make a lot of sense, maybe by forming an alliance similar to EADS, but without polished soles of the shoes in the ranks of such an alliance. For China, Bryan Cunningham, a legal advisor to the Bush and Clinton administration, states, that he assumes the Chinese government might be interested in accessing the location tracking data. This allegation could be seen as a smoke-screen in an ongoing dispute of China with the United States on mutual accusations to hack their respective opponent.