iPhone Threat to Chinese National Security

iphone

The iPhone, America’s competitor to the Android-run ranges of smart phones assembled and produced in China. Surprisingly, the producer of the world’s iPhones is now attacking Apple and the iPhone, calling it a threat to Chinese national security, in a new wave of attacks against U.S. technology corporations. The time-stamp and GPS feature that located and recorded user locations is the reason the Chinese that is fuelling the anti-U.S. sentiment as seen on state-run television programmes.

On the national broadcast in the afternoon, China Central Television (CCTV) aired criticism about Apple and the iPhone. The feature, available on Apple’s iOS7, the operating system for iPhones records the location and times of the user’s movements. Chinese media who reported these features cited researchers who claimed that this feature enables access to Chinese state secrets and economic situation if it fell in the wrong hands.

Apple, it seems was not available for comments about the Chinese backlash on its technology. Describing the feature as a traveller’s aid, the location-tracking feature was intended to be an efficient guide to users, and as Apple says, the feature can be disabled if one did not need it.

Although state-run media CCTV ran the piece, it does not reflect the views of the Chinese public, political élite or the consumers. The CCTV is quite influential in China, with many companies making last-minute changes in policies or recalling products in the past, owing to CCTV’s reports. Apple who is gearing up for the release of iPhone 6 later this year, may find trouble in this latest report of threats against Chinese national security. In China, the iPhone faces stiff competition from Google’s Android, taking up only five percent of the Chinese consumer market. While this may not be encouraging for Apple, they can take solace in the fact that 80 percent of the high-end customers are iPhone users, placing the product a couple of notches higher than Android and Samsung.

The criticism of U.S. based Apple may continue, according to industry pundits. Experts have noted that CCTV forced Apple CEO, Tim Cook to apologize after it accused the firm of unfair warranty policies for its Chinese consumers. U.S tech firms have been on the receiving end for some time now. Edward Snowden’s alleged revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) espionage of Chinese politicians was being facilitated by U.S. technology firms like Google and Apple.

Although Apple has denied any involvement in transfer user-related information to the NSA, the CCTV broadcast cited Snowden’s revelations as the basis of their allegation. Branding U.S. technology as vehicles of espionage, China called for robust laws to protect data and warning Apple to accept legal responsibilities if there was any leakage.

Since May, the cold war between China and U.S. has been making news. China refused to run Windows 8 on state-run computers, fearing hacking and spying, with the U.S. retaliating by charging five Chinese military officers of hacking America data systems. With the media projecting Microsoft, Google and Apple as American threats to the national security of China, alternatives to everything American are being developed. Although, China OS for phones, is being developed by the China Academy of Sciences, the use of the OS is highly unlikely. China vowed to replace American versions of technology with Chinese ones to reduce their dependence on the U.S., but Washington is yet to respond to the latest allegations with an official statement.

By Rathan Paul Harshavardan

Sources:
Reuters
Wall Street Journal
Financial Times

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