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China's state-owned media calls iOS location tracking a 'national security concern'

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
A Friday afternoon report from China Central Television, the Asian nation's dominant state-run broadcaster, said the location tracking features found in Apple's iOS are a "national security concern" and worried that they could be used to expose Chinese state secrets.

Apple Store in Beijing's Sanlitun neighborhood
Apple Store in Beijing's Sanlitun neighborhood


CCTV pointed at iOS's "Frequent Locations" functionality, a feature that tracks the geographic coordinates to which a user most frequently travels -- their home and place of business, for example -- using cellular triangulation, Wi-Fi positioning, and GPS. Chinese researchers told CCTV that such fine-grained tracking could inadvertently reveal sensitive information, and "even state secrets," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple, along with many other U.S.-based technology companies, is seen as potentially compromised by U.S. intelligence services following disclosures by NSA leaker Edward Snowden last year. CCTV called databases held by those companies "gold mines" before suggesting that Apple should "take on any legal responsibilities" that arise if foreign actors were to gain access.

China is not alone in its wariness, though it is generally companies that provide infrastructure services -- such as Verizon or Cisco -- who fall most heavily under the microscope. The German interior ministry ended a contract with Verizon last month, for instance, citing spying concerns.

Apple has, however, found itself on the wrong side of the Chinese government in the past when it comes to consumer issues. The company suffered through an onslaught of attacks from state-run media last year over its warranty practices, which eventually yielded policy changes alongside an apology from CEO Tim Cook.
post #2 of 66

Between this and the recent court case loss, it sounds like Apple missed a protection payment to the CCP.  Once the Chinese politicians have been paid, everything bad will go away.

post #3 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post
 

Between this and the recent court case loss, it sounds like Apple missed a protection payment to the CCP.  Once the Chinese politicians have been paid, everything bad will go away.

 

Certainly my experience when living in China. There's no problem money can't solve.

post #4 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post

Between this and the recent court case loss, it sounds like Apple missed a protection payment to the CCP.  Once the Chinese politicians have been paid, everything bad will go away.

Twitter and Google are both blocked in China. I guess those two don't pay as well? 1rolleyes.gif

Concerns about Apple, Google and tracking, particularly with regard to cloud services, were mentioned at least a month ago in the US media....
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0614-google-china-20140614-story.html#page=1

and in China.
http://rightwayssuccess.blogspot.com/2014/06/foreign-tech-firms-pose-threat-on.html
Edited by Gatorguy - 7/11/14 at 5:37am
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post #5 of 66
So, if it's a problem, they can turn bro-location services off.
post #6 of 66
Man how awesome would it be if we didn't need China for manufacturing. Or if the US government didn't need China to finance it's massive debt. Would be so nice to be able to give a big middle finger to the Chinese government.
post #7 of 66

There are solutions:

 

1.  Turn it off;

2.   Leave the cell phone at home

3.  Buy a cheap cell phone

4.  Use electronics to jam the signal near government installations

5.  Have one of the local manufacturing companies in China continue to manufacture clones. or

6.  Formally ask Apple not to sell sell phones with this feature (don't now if this is possible)

post #8 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Man how awesome would it be if we didn't need China for manufacturing. Or if the US government didn't need China to finance it's massive debt. Would be so nice to be able to give a big middle finger to the Chinese government.

Speaking purely about Apple's involvement .... All I can say is have patients grasshopper, Tim is slowly working on it ... 1wink.gif
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Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
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post #9 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by RS9 View Post

There are solutions:

1.  Turn it off;
2.   Leave the cell phone at home
3.  Buy a cheap cell phone
4.  Use electronics to jam the signal near government installations
5.  Have one of the local manufacturing companies in China continue to manufacture clones. or
6.  Formally ask Apple not to sell sell phones with this feature (don't now if this is possible)

7. Very large EMP.
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
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Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
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post #10 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post

Between this and the recent court case loss, it sounds like Apple missed a protection payment to the CCP.  Once the Chinese politicians have been paid, everything bad will go away.

Sounds an accurate assessment.

When you play with a dragon . . . you might get burned.
post #11 of 66
All of which can been turned off by the user. So what's the issue

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #12 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

All of which can been turned off by the user. So what's the issue
The Chinese Government prefers policing these things themselves rather than letting users make the choice.
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post #13 of 66
A lot of comments here say things like "turn it off".. they forget that location services are Opt-in *only*. When you set up your iPhone for the first time, or perform any major upgrade (e.g. iOS 6->iOS 7) the installer will specifically ask you if you'd like to use location services. Additionally any app or website that requests your location, requires specific approval. In iOS 8, even that want to use your location in the background need an additional approval.

Unlike other platforms, you will -never- reveal your location unless you have specifically permitted such use. Same goes with the microphone, camera, your contacts, your photos, etc.
post #14 of 66

IIRC, in iOS 7, you have to turn on location tracking, it's off by default (i.e. "Opt In").

 

It certainly could be easier to find, though:  Settings, Privacy, Location Services, System Services, Frequent Locations.

 

What iOS gives you, that Android doesn't, is the ability to turn off features like this at a granular level on a per-app or per-feature basis.

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

Reply
post #15 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post
 

Between this and the recent court case loss, it sounds like Apple missed a protection payment to the CCP.  Once the Chinese politicians have been paid, everything bad will go away.

That was my first reaction, but it could also be that they refused to provide the Chinese government with tracking information, or allowing them to turn tracking on stealthily. At any rate, it's obvious that the government's complaint is completely baseless, so there definitely is some sort of power play here.

post #16 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

All of which can been turned off by the user. So what's the issue

The concern is that if IOS has been compromosed by the NSA then you only think you are turning it off.
post #17 of 66

Location services are handled by a combination of WiFi tower location and GPS. Without these, the iPhone doesn't know where it is. I'm sure all those Chinese government hackers programmers could easily come up with a way to stop all cellphones from using WiFi and GPS for location data. Of course, this would also handicap any mapping or legitimate GPS operation but homeland security always comes first. We have to remember that even though Americans complain about not being able to do anything they want to do, Chinese have always been in a much worse situation and I bet many would love to be able to do 5% of the things we take for granted. In the US, location tracking is also a national security concern but our government is glad phones have it because they can use it for their benefit and against us. I'm surprised the Chinese government is even complaining. Apple has created a built-in location monitoring system that they don't have to pay anything for.

post #18 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordJohnWhorfin View Post

That was my first reaction, but it could also be that they refused to provide the Chinese government with tracking information, or allowing them to turn tracking on stealthily. At any rate, it's obvious that the government's complaint is completely baseless, so there definitely is some sort of power play here.
iPhones, iPads, Galaxy Tabs nor any other western tech would NOT be permitted in China if they don't bend to Chinese government requests. I can't imagine it would not include access to citizen data and location. IMO it's only a matter of time before any cloud services available to China's mainland will be restricted to those with China infrastucture and China storage of user data.

Dropbox won't offer Chinese government access and they're now blocked in China. Google won't allow it either and they are also blocked. So is Twitter. Microsoft on the other hand recognized building servers in China and partnering with Chinese companies would give them access some others do not. They know how the game is played, so Azure is alive and well in China.
Edited by Gatorguy - 7/11/14 at 8:15am
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post #19 of 66

This won't hurt iPhone at all unless they ban iPhone sales.

 

Most of the rich class hate the government anyway.

post #20 of 66

When I was reading "Sting of the Drones" they had an interesting take on this iPhone capability - it sounds a little far fetched - but here's the excerpt.

 

Excerpt From: Richard A. Clarke. “Sting of the Drone.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Y0_LT.l

 

“You can’t remove the battery from the iPhone like you can on most mobiles,” Dugout explained. “So it’s never fully dead, even when it’s off. It still leaks a little juice from the battery to keep the clock going and on the new iPhone it also powers the Find My iPhone app when the phone can link to an open WiFi network. It’s a fix from earlier versions of the app. It’s designed to find stolen iPhones even if the thief never turns the device on. It doesn’t search for a cell tower because that would drain the battery, but every hour it looks briefly for a WiFi network and when one sends out a ping to the Finder app, it will send back an ack packet, an acknowledgment, with its coordinates.”

“So, how does that help us?” Erik asked.
“Simple, we add the new antenna and software to a bunch of Preds over Vegas and establish open WiFi networks from them. We activate her Find My iPhone app and broadcast that out over the WiFi nets. If her device is still in one piece, it will get the message and will beep back its location. If we have two Preds up that can get the signal, we can triangulate to within a few feet.”

 

So what say the huddled masses?

post #21 of 66
Because typing on the ONE toggle to disable location services on iOS is sooo hard!!
post #22 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

Because typing on the ONE toggle to disable location services on iOS is sooo hard!!

Users might not care. Chinese government agencies? They may care. In addition and as noted in a previous post it may not be possible to entirely disable access to location-reporting.
Edited by Gatorguy - 7/11/14 at 8:35am
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post #23 of 66

The off switch we should be looking for is not on the iPhone but on the Chinese's government's ludicrously broad and arbitrary definition of state secrets.

post #24 of 66

This is all a back lash from what our government has been doing. Our idiot in our government have no clue that their stupid idea can end up hurting American business abroad. This is what Apple all these company have come out public against the government activities. They were hoping to mitigate any downside risks but obviously other places in the world are not buying it.

post #25 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by RS9 View Post
 

There are solutions:

 

1.  Turn it off;

2.   Leave the cell phone at home

3.  Buy a cheap cell phone

4.  Use electronics to jam the signal near government installations

5.  Have one of the local manufacturing companies in China continue to manufacture clones. or

6.  Formally ask Apple not to sell sell phones with this feature (don't now if this is possible)


7. Use an Android phone?

post #26 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

Location services are handled by a combination of WiFi tower location and GPS. Without these, the iPhone doesn't know where it is. I'm sure all those Chinese government hackers programmers could easily come up with a way to stop all cellphones from using WiFi and GPS for location data. Of course, this would also handicap any mapping or legitimate GPS operation but homeland security always comes first. We have to remember that even though Americans complain about not being able to do anything they want to do, Chinese have always been in a much worse situation and I bet many would love to be able to do 5% of the things we take for granted. In the US, location tracking is also a national security concern but our government is glad phones have it because they can use it for their benefit and against us. I'm surprised the Chinese government is even complaining. Apple has created a built-in location monitoring system that they don't have to pay anything for.


Excellent point.  The cell tower and WiFi knows where the phone is.  Apple just enables this info to the user.  But for spy agencies like NSA, this job is almost trivial.  May be the Chinese spies are dumber than US?

post #27 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


Users might not care. Chinese government agencies? They may care. In addition and as noted in a previous post it may not be possible to entirely disable access to location-reporting.

I think this is  a blatant issue that the Chinese can't crack Apple's encryption therefore the PRC CAN'T track these iPhone users... If the PRC can't do it, you think they'll let anyone else do it?

 

As for turning off an iPhone from all outside access...  A Faraday cage that disables all emissions/transmissions including 2.4ghz (5+ layers of aluminum foil  with a dielectric separating them from the phone, outer wrapped in dielectric, then an steel/aluminium can around that) tote bags will do the trick (just Mylar... definitely not;-) ).

post #28 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post
 

Between this and the recent court case loss, it sounds like Apple missed a protection payment to the CCP.  Once the Chinese politicians have been paid, everything bad will go away.


Huawei forgot to bribe US politicians.  However, US is more advanced than China.  So bribing has to be done more sophisticated too. 

post #29 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by ECats View Post

A lot of comments here say things like "turn it off".. they forget that location services are Opt-in *only*. When you set up your iPhone for the first time, or perform any major upgrade (e.g. iOS 6->iOS 7) the installer will specifically ask you if you'd like to use location services. Additionally any app or website that requests your location, requires specific approval. In iOS 8, even that want to use your location in the background need an additional approval.

Unlike other platforms, you will -never- reveal your location unless you have specifically permitted such use. Same goes with the microphone, camera, your contacts, your photos, etc.

CM11 has privacy guard.  Allows you to turn off any or all permission for an app at a deeper level than ios

post #30 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Man how awesome would it be if we didn't need China for manufacturing. Or if the US government didn't need China to finance it's massive debt. Would be so nice to be able to give a big middle finger to the Chinese government.

 

The US government doesn't need China to finance the debt.  The current demand for US Treasury bonds is so high that they pay a negative real interest rate: adjusted for inflation, people pay the US government to hold five year treasury bonds.  This has been true since 2011.  And China only owns about 7% of our debt.  About 1/3 of the debt is owned by the US government itself (e.g., social security).  And it would probably be good for the US economy if China dumped their holding, since it might lower the value of the dollar and help exports. The deficit is also falling rapidly, as overall government spending (federal plus state) is falling at the fastest rate since the Korean war (mostly because of state cutbacks as the stimulus support from the federal government is gone and their revenues are down).

post #31 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

Location services are handled by a combination of WiFi tower location and GPS. Without these, the iPhone doesn't know where it is. I'm sure all those Chinese government hackers programmers could easily come up with a way to stop all cellphones from using WiFi and GPS for location data. Of course, this would also handicap any mapping or legitimate GPS operation but homeland security always comes first. We have to remember that even though Americans complain about not being able to do anything they want to do, Chinese have always been in a much worse situation and I bet many would love to be able to do 5% of the things we take for granted. In the US, location tracking is also a national security concern but our government is glad phones have it because they can use it for their benefit and against us. I'm surprised the Chinese government is even complaining. Apple has created a built-in location monitoring system that they don't have to pay anything for.

the issue they have is our government can track their people since the date resides on servers based in the US and a recent court rules says that company must hand over information about people who are not US citizen and data resides on serves outside the US. They said the since they are a US company they must comply. So you have to ask yourself, would you want China having access to your information.

post #32 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

So you have to ask yourself, would you want China having access to your information.

I believe Mainland China users will almost certainly have their data accessible by at least some of their government agencies as a condition for approval of the device or tech for use in China. Hasn't that been the pattern? Perhaps the US is not so different if we were to know the entire story.
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post #33 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

the issue they have is our government can track their people since the date resides on servers based in the US and a recent court rules says that company must hand over information about people who are not US citizen and data resides on serves outside the US. They said the since they are a US company they must comply. So you have to ask yourself, would you want China having access to your information.


Do you remember there was an incident that happened many years ago before iPhone was introduced?  A Cnet editor with family was lost in Oregon mountain during the winter.  His wealthy father pleaded for help.  Eventually one AT&T technician was able to use his cellphone tracking data to locate.  Unfortunately he died before the rescuers arrived.  The fact I learned from this story is the location of a cell phone user can be easily tracked. I think the real issue is whether Apple makes this data available to apps or web sites.  If so, Apple should make this very clear to the users. 


Edited by tzeshan - 7/11/14 at 10:18am
post #34 of 66
Easy fix: Just toggle Leak State Secrets to OFF in iOS 7, under General Settings.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #35 of 66

It is because they are losing their monopoly on tracking and spying on their own people. 

post #36 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

So, if it's a problem, they can turn bro-location services off.


China is right on, Apps that want your location are a privacy invasion. Most of those Apps don't need that location info.

It's become a pain continually refusing App requests for my location. 

Some Apps I delete rather than turn on location for them.

post #37 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshA View Post


China is right on, Apps that want your location are a privacy invasion. Most of those Apps don't need that location info.
It's become a pain continually refusing App requests for my location. 
Some Apps I delete rather than turn on location for them.
They aren't complaining about apps that use geolocation. They are complaining about system level service that enable capabilities such as "Find My Phone." And, that is easy to turn off in settings. Really simple.
post #38 of 66

BS.  Just don't allow govt. employees to bring cell phones into govt. buildings...  

Sounds like someone hasn't been paying their 'protection' money.

post #39 of 66

What people in China are saying about this (https://applecult.versify-app.com/post/u7ezwr)

 

  • Clearly an ad for 360 (360 is a security service in China)
  • 360's "One Button Cleaning" = "One Button Uploading to 360 Server"
  • We must kick all American companies out of China – just look at North Korea and how much happier they are
  • Can't obtain tracking data from Apple, so let's get everyone to use 360 so that we can extract the data more easily
  • CCAV again!
post #40 of 66

In a country where any political system but communism is a national security concern, I don’t think we should care much about whatever else they have to say.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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