China has always been known as enemies of big technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Over the past decade, the country has knowingly blocked access of these websites alongside other website access in the name of national security.
Other than Internet and softwares, it looks like the country is taking access blocking to a whole new level: hardware.
Earlier last week, Chinese state media branded Apple Inc’s iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. The iPhone’s “Frequent Locations” function which allows users to be tracked and information about them revealed was criticized by broadcaster CCTV.
“This is extremely sensitive data,” said a researcher interviewed by the broadcaster. If the data were accessed, it could reveal an entire country’s economic situation and “even state secrets,” the researcher said.
Could this be a sign that Apple will soon to be blocked in China?
An official response by Apple sent to Reuters on Saturday said that it was committed to protecting the privacy of its users, and that no unique information related to the user or the device was transmitted when using the location functions.
“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. Apple does not track users’ locations – Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so” it said.
Apple also says that ‘Frequent Locations’ are only stored on a customer’s iOS device and are encrypted and never backed up on iTunes or iCloud, and Apple does not have access to the information at any time. The feature can also be turned off via the privacy settings.
The Apple of China, Xiaomi, on the other hand, is actively expanding its reach around the world. It is especially well received in Singapore, with the recent debut of its Xiaomi Note being snapped up by customers in just 42 seconds.