Apple shoots down Chinese state media accusations targeting iOS privacy, location tracking

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2014
Apple's website in China has published a detailed response to accusations by the country's state owned media, refuting claims that iOS tracks users' locations in a firm but politely worded statement.

Frequent Locations iOS 7


A posting titled "Your Location Privacy," presented in both Chinese and English on Apple's Chinese website, states "Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers. Privacy is built into our products and services from the earliest stages of design. We work tirelessly to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world."

Alluding the advertising-supported nature of Google's Android, Apple's statement continued, "unlike many companies, our business does not depend on collecting large amounts of personal data about our customers."

Instead, Apple wrote, "we are strongly committed to giving our customers clear and transparent notice, choice and control over their information, and we believe our products do this in a simple and elegant way."

Chinese propaganda targeted Apple over location tracking "concerns"

On Friday, China's state run China Central Television network published a report referring to iOS' Frequent Location feature as being a national security concern that might reveal sensitive information, "even state secrets," according to coverage of the issue by the Wall Street Journal.

The same CCTV network directed a similar populist attack on Apple last year regarding the company's warranty policies, alleging that it was "biased against Chinese consumers in its warranty and consumer service policies."

Apple's chief executive responded with a public statement noting that a lack of public communication could lead to "misunderstandings," for which he offered Apple's "sincere apologies."

The statement clarified Apple's policies, noting that "nearly 90% of customers expressed satisfaction with our repair services, and consumer satisfaction is the most important criterion for Apple to measure its own success."

Apple details its privacy policies

Regarding the new allegations targeting privacy and the Frequent Locations feature in particular (depicted below), the company stated, "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." - Apple

It continued, "our customers want and expect their mobile devices to be able to quickly and reliably determine their current locations for specific activities such as shopping, travel, finding the nearest restaurant or calculating the amount of time it takes them to get to work. We do this at the device level. Apple does not track users' locations - Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

"Calculating a phone's location using just GPS satellite data can take several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using pre-stored WLAN hotspot and cell tower location data in combination with information about which hotspots and cell towers are currently being received by the iPhone. In order to accomplish this goal, Apple maintains a secure crowd-sourced database containing known locations of cell towers and WLAN hotspots that Apple collects from millions of Apple devices. It's important to point out that during this collection process, an Apple device does not transmit any data that is uniquely associated with the device or the customer.

Frequent Locations iOS 7


"Apple gives customers control over collection and use of location data on all our devices. Customers have to make the choice to enable Location Services, it is not a default setting. Apple does not allow any app to receive device location information without first receiving the user's explicit consent through a simple pop-up alert."Frequent Locations are only stored on a customer's iOS device, they are not backed up on iTunes or iCloud, and are encrypted"

This alert is mandatory and cannot be overridden. Customers may change their mind and opt-out of Location Services for individual apps or services at any time by using simple 'On/Off' switches. When a user turns 'Off' location data for an app or service, it stops collecting the data. Parents can also use Restrictions to prevent access by their children to Location Services.

"When it comes to using iPhone for traffic conditions, iOS can capture Frequent Locations to provide commute information in the Today view of Notification Center and to show you automatic routing for iOS in CarPlay.

Frequent Locations are only stored on a customer's iOS device, they are not backed up on iTunes or iCloud, and are encrypted. Apple does not obtain or know a user's Frequent Locations and this feature can always be turned 'Off' via our privacy settings."Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services"

"Apple does not have access to Frequent Locations or the location cache on any user's iPhone at any time. We encrypt the cache by the user's passcode and it is protected from access by any app. In the interest of even greater transparency for our customers, if a user enters their passcode successfully, they are able to see the data collected on their device. Once the device is locked no one is able to view that information without entering the passcode.

"As we have stated before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It's something we feel very strongly about."

Apple "caught in the crossfire" in American / Chinese privacy squabble

Reporting on the subject, CNET wrote, "It's possible, though not confirmed, that this CCTV report was retaliation for American officials on Thursday saying Chinese hackers broke into US computer networks that house the personal information of federal employees. China often responds to US accusations of cyberspying by taking aim at American tech companies. Apple, Cisco, Google, IBM, and Microsoft are just a few of the tech companies to get caught in the crossfire."

Apple has been extremely cautious in handling the Chinese market, which is already as important of a market for the company's products as the United States. Unlike the U.S. however, China continues to report tremendous new growth in device sales.

Umeng China iPhone


Data from Umeng, China's largest analysts firm, indicated that the vast majority of premium smartphones in China are iPhones. "The market for budget Android phones is strong in China with 57 percent of devices under the $330 price range," the firm reported in March. "However, over a quarter are using high end smartphones costing over $500; 80 percent of these are iPhones."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    I think this is more about China setting the stage for favoring its domestic companies like Xiaomi.

    Also worried for Apple that Chinese law won’t favor Apple in trade and intellectual property disputes either. China, like some other Asian countries thrives on IP theft and dissuading citizens from buying American products with scare tactics.
  • Reply 2 of 46
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,738member

    It's obviously not realistic or possible to fully accomplish just yet, but hopefully Apple has a longterm plan and a vision for eventually shifting production away from China. Bring on the robots! Millions of them! Forget about the Chinese clowns in that laughable government and their shitty state controlled propaganda tv. What a joke. 

  • Reply 3 of 46
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member
    dbolander wrote: »
    I think this is more about China setting the stage for favoring its domestic companies like Xiaomi.

    Also worried for Apple that Chinese law won’t favor Apple in trade and intellectual property disputes either. China, like some other Asian countries thrives on IP theft and dissuading citizens from buying American products with scare tactics.

    I totally wouldn't doubt a word you said. I would add as conjecture that I see this also as a way for China government to hide behind that perhaps they want to limit the amount of iPhones due to their stellar privacy and not because of it's modest opt-in/out nature. Perhaps they've tried to hack I phones for "privacy issues" and haven't been successful either. I have no doubt if iOS was as vulnerable to hacking as Android and Windows mobile, they would have said nothing. But this is all speculation on my part. They track data way more than even the NSA does in the US.
  • Reply 4 of 46
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member
    apple ][ wrote: »
    It's obviously not realistic or possible to fully accomplish just yet, but hopefully Apple has a longterm plan and a vision for eventually shifting production away from China. Bring on the robots! Millions of them! Forget about the Chinese clowns in that laughable government and their shitty state controlled propaganda tv. What a joke. 

    Yes robots would help keep production costs down if Apple were to bring full production back to the USA. That would be nice to see, but you're also going to get push-back from Apple haters and politicians saying robots take away good paying jobs from skilled laborers ready and willing to do that work. But I would love to see more production in the US.
    However, that would be kind of a slap in the face to china. A country that Apple needs to keep happy since that population is of great desire for the further growth of the platform. And don't forget China owns a majority of the US debt. So it's a very delicate political and economic ground.
  • Reply 5 of 46
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,432member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

     

    It's obviously not realistic or possible to fully accomplish just yet, but hopefully Apple has a longterm plan and a vision for eventually shifting production away from China. Bring on the robots! Millions of them! Forget about the Chinese clowns in that laughable government and their shitty state controlled propaganda tv. What a joke. 


    Yeah, that's all fine and good, but this isn't about manufacturing, this is about iOS usage.

     

    China isn't just a product supplier, it's also the world's largest market by population. No global consumer electronics company can ignore it's nearly 1.4 billion people. Basically, about one in every five people on this planet is Chinese.

  • Reply 6 of 46
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,738member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

     

    Yeah, that's all fine and good, but this isn't about manufacturing, this is about iOS usage.

     

    China isn't just a product supplier, it's also the world's largest market by population. No global consumer electronics company can ignore it's nearly 1.4 billion people. Basically, about one in every five people on this planet is Chinese.


     

    I never wrote that Apple should ignore the Chinese market.  I just wrote that Apple should think about moving the manufacturing away from China.

  • Reply 7 of 46
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,738member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post





    Yes robots would help keep production costs down if Apple were to bring full production back to the USA. That would be nice to see, but you're also going to get push-back from Apple haters and politicians saying robots take away good paying jobs from skilled laborers ready and willing to do that work. But I would love to see more production in the US.

    However, that would be kind of a slap in the face to china. A country that Apple needs to keep happy since that population is of great desire for the further growth of the platform. And don't forget China owns a majority of the US debt. So it's a very delicate political and economic ground.

     

    Of course there will probably be push back. There's always lame groups that are going to be complaining and whining no matter what Apple does. Eventually you just have to ignore real life trolls, and just go about your business and act as if they are invisible. I also have no problems with slapping China in the face.

     

    It's true that China owns a great deal of the US debt, but Apple is not the USA, and Apple doesn't owe anything to China. Apple should be looking after Apple, and Apple is not responsible for any disastrous and stupid decisions made by incompetent US politicians.

  • Reply 8 of 46
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    [QUOTE]Apple shoots down Chinese state media accusations[/QUOTE]

    take that china ... you just got shot down!

    jhc, dilger, what are you, seven years old?
  • Reply 9 of 46
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,486member

    The government of the PRC (just like every government) is made of people. People who are ambitious and lazy, nationalistic and multi-cultural, unreasonable and curious. I suspect there is a large amount of cage rattling for the typical political reasons. Just think of all the BS that comes out of Washington, DC. "Government" is not a single person.

  • Reply 10 of 46
    normmnormm Posts: 575member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post



    And don't forget China owns a majority of the US debt. So it's a very delicate political and economic ground.

    China owns 7% of the US debt.  Also, US treasury bond interest rates are currently so low that it wouldn't make much difference if they dumped that: the inflation-adjusted interest rates on 5 year treasuries has been negative since 2011. And most economists think that if China acted in a way that lowered the value of the dollar a bit, that would actually be a net benefit for the US economy, because of increased exports.

  • Reply 11 of 46
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,738member
    Quote:



    Originally Posted by Pooch View Post



    take that china ... you just got shot down!



    jhc, dilger, what are you, seven years old?

     

    Do you have problems understanding and comprehending the English written language?

     

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with using that phrase in the context that it has been used.

     

    I don't get why certain people constantly seem to attack some of the people who write for this site. If I had to guess, then I'd say that you are the one who is acting like a seven year old.

  • Reply 12 of 46
    aussiepaulaussiepaul Posts: 144member
    Apple needs to bring back the I'm a Mac style adds but this time with "I'm an iPhone" pitting themselves directly against google and Samsung. Customers like facts, especially when delivered in a comical way. New actors of course. This time the Apple side should be a woman. Siri maybe lol. Apples latest feel good adds make me queasy...
  • Reply 13 of 46
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member
    antkm1 wrote: »
    Yes robots would help keep production costs down if Apple were to bring full production back to the USA. That would be nice to see, but you're also going to get push-back from Apple haters and politicians saying robots take away good paying jobs from skilled laborers ready and willing to do that work. But I would love to see more production in the US.
    However, that would be kind of a slap in the face to china. A country that Apple needs to keep happy since
    normm wrote: »
    China owns 7% of the US debt.  Also, US treasury bond interest rates are currently so low that it wouldn't make much difference if they dumped that: the inflation-adjusted interest rates on 5 year treasuries has been negative since 2011. And most economists think that if China acted in a way that lowered the value of the dollar a bit, that would actually be a net benefit for the US economy, because of increased exports.

    I don't think we're looking at the same figures.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/10/10/this-surprising-chart-shows-which-countries-own-the-most-u-s-debt/
  • Reply 14 of 46
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    pooch wrote: »
    take that china ... you just got shot down!

    jhc, dilger, what are you, seven years old?

    shoot someone/something down
    • crush someone or their opinions by forceful criticism or argument: she tried to argue and got shot down in flames for her trouble.
  • Reply 15 of 46
    mubailimubaili Posts: 405member
    the state run media especially the CCTV that targeted Apple two years ago are in a lot of trouble during the recent campaign against corruption. The media just trying to create some controversy to distract the attention.
  • Reply 16 of 46
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,145moderator
    antkm1 wrote: »

    According to that article, China owns 25% of Foreign-owned U.S. Debt. It also says that the majority owner of U.S. Debt is us, folks right here in the U.S. who hold treasuries, for example. So, at the time this article was written, if we owned the majority, which would mean over 50%, then China's 25% of the foreign-owned portion could not be more than 12.5% of the total (25% of 50% is 12.5%). If China owns 7%, as NormM suggests, and that 7% represents 25% of the foreign-owned portion, that would imply the the foreign-owned portion represents 28% of the total, meaning the other 72% is Held domestically, which would certainly represent a majority, consistent with what the article claims. Do you have another source that actually refutes what NormM claims? Because the source you provided does not.
  • Reply 17 of 46
    blazarblazar Posts: 270member
    apple ][ wrote: »
    It's obviously not realistic or possible to fully accomplish just yet, but hopefully Apple has a longterm plan and a vision for eventually shifting production away from China. Bring on the robots! Millions of them! Forget about the Chinese clowns in that laughable government and their shitty state controlled propaganda tv. What a joke. 

    Great point... Robotics... Done in the USA... Could spark a new american revolution and correct trade defecits in our favor.
  • Reply 18 of 46
    chipsychipsy Posts: 287member
    blazar wrote: »
    Great point... Robotics... Done in the USA... Could spark a new american revolution and correct trade defecits in our favor.
    Actually I think that robotics is a real opportunity for the US to reclaim some manufacturing that is now lost to China. One thing you forgot to take into account was the possible social consequences this might entail. Say the US is a world leader in fabrication by robotics that still wouldn't solve the unemployment issue(s). It might even worsen the issue.
    I realize that a rising robotic fabrication industry probably will increase the demand of highly educated employees but the reality is that a lot of people still aren't highly educated.
    Anyway, the opportunity certainly is there and I personally think the US should grab it with both hands but we have to keep in mind that it also can have unintended consequences.
  • Reply 19 of 46
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,721member

    Settings

    Privacy

    Location Services

    System Services

    Frequent Locations

  • Reply 20 of 46
    ajbdtc826ajbdtc826 Posts: 190member
    dbolander wrote: »
    I think this is more about China setting the stage for favoring its domestic companies like Xiaomi.

    Also worried for Apple that Chinese law won’t favor Apple in trade and intellectual property disputes either. China, like some other Asian countries thrives on IP theft and dissuading citizens from buying American products with scare tactics.

    What you just said is exactly why 2011's "meeting of the techies" aka plan b to solve our debt issue (invest in growing economies) was never a good idea fundamentally. Thanks for posting, chips go to Elon Musk.
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